BISMARCK, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum today requested a presidential major disaster declaration for severe spring storms and subsequent flooding that broke precipitation records, knocked out power to more than 10,000 residents and caused more than $57 million in damage across the state.
In a letter today directed to President Joe Biden through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Burgum requested that a major disaster be declared for 40 counties: Adams, Barnes, Billings, Bottineau, Burke, Cavalier, Dickey, Divide, Dunn, Foster, Golden Valley, Grand Forks, Grant, Griggs, Hettinger, Kidder, LaMoure, Logan, McHenry, McIntosh, McKenzie, McLean, Mountrail, Nelson, Oliver, Pembina, Ramsey, Ransom, Renville, Richland, Rolette, Sargent, Steele, Stutsman, Towner, Traill, Walsh, Ward, Wells and Williams.
From April 22 to May 25, North Dakota experienced a series of wintry, mixed precipitation events around the state resulting in significant freezing rain, heavy snow, sleet and downpours. The severe weather caused damage to infrastructure including roads, bridges and railways and threatened the stability of flood control structures including the Bourbanis Dam near Cavalier, where North Dakota National Guard Black Hawk helicopters placed 213 one-ton sandbags to stabilize areas of concern around the dam. Strong winds and ice buildup from freezing rain led to the collapse of 7,000 utility poles and at least 550 miles of damage to electric infrastructure, leaving households in western North Dakota without power for up to three and a half weeks.
Infrastructure damage is currently estimated at over $57 million, with that number expected to climb once all damaged sites are tallied. Burgum previously declared a statewide emergency for the April 22-24 storm, which caused major damage to electric grid infrastructure in western North Dakota and kickstarted the flooding that impacted the eastern half of North Dakota for the following 30 days. The storm was preceded by an April 12-14 blizzard that dumped more than 30 inches of snow on some areas and was exacerbated by a third storm April 29-30 that dumped record rainfall. April 2022 was the second wettest April on record in North Dakota.
“Communities and households throughout the eastern portion of the state worked to protect their homes and personal safety from floodwaters while the western portion fought ice and extensive power outages,” Burgum said. “We appreciate the administration considering our request for assistance to help communities recover from these spring storms and build resiliency against future severe weather events.”
If granted, a presidential declaration would unlock FEMA public assistance to help cities, counties and townships pay for the costs of repairing roads and other infrastructure.
In addition, Burgum also is asking that the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program be implemented on a statewide basis to help communities pay for projects that increase resiliency and reduce costs in the long term.