Gov. Doug Burgum submitted a letter Monday seeking an extension for the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services (NDDES) to finish compiling local preliminary damage assessments for a presidential disaster declaration following historic fall flooding that has caused millions of dollars in damage to public infrastructure.
In conjunction with NDDES, Burgum submitted a written request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to grant local and state officials more time to assess extensive damage to public infrastructure. Federal guidelines require that a request for a presidential disaster declaration must be made within 30 days of the event, but widespread flooding has prevented access to the damaged areas and completion of preliminary damage assessments.
The disaster period for which North Dakota counties are being submitted for a presidential disaster declaration spans from Oct. 9-26, 2019. This time period began with a severe winter storm that blanketed already saturated areas across the state with more than 36 inches of snow in some locations. The end date was identified as the day when inflows from the Jamestown Reservoir and the gauge on the Red River at Pembina officially crested and began to recede.
“Many of the local governments experiencing fall flooding are also in the process of addressing severe agricultural impacts,” Burgum said in the letter, noting that Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue recently declared a Secretarial Disaster Designation for 47 of North Dakota’s 53 counties, making assistance available to farmers and ranchers struggling with the impacts of an early blizzard and abnormally wet fall.
If the request for an extension is approved, NDDES will continue to gather information describing the extent of damages to infrastructure and submit the information to FEMA mid-December. Currently, 11 counties have submitted reports on damages with 8 counties still working to assess the adverse effects of fall flooding. A presidential disaster declaration potentially would include public assistance for emergency work and the repair or replacement of damaged road infrastructure.