Friday, May 22, 2020 - 03:27 pm

BISMARCK, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum today requested a presidential major disaster declaration for widespread spring flooding estimated to have caused more than $40 million in damage to roads and other public infrastructure in North Dakota. The request follows an executive order Burgum issued April 24 declaring a statewide flood emergency.

In a letter today directed to President Donald Trump through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Burgum requested that the President declare a major disaster for the period of March 2 to April 25, when the Red River dropped below major flood stage in Pembina. The request includes 21 counties: Barnes, Cass, Dickey, Emmons, Foster, Grand Forks, Kidder, LaMoure, Logan, McIntosh, Nelson, Pembina, Ransom, Richland, Sargent, Sheridan, Steele, Stutsman, Traill, Walsh and Wells.

“River and overland flooding this spring caused significant damage to roads, bridges and culverts in North Dakota counties that were already heavily burdened by recovery costs from significant spring and fall flooding last year,” Burgum said. “We appreciate the Trump administration considering our request and are grateful for everyone who worked with our Department of Emergency Services to compile data and make the case for federal assistance to help local jurisdictions recover.”

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 damaged by flooding. Preliminary assessments indicate that damage in the 21 counties is expected to exceed $9.2 million, with an additional $2 million in damage estimated to still be underwater. The North Dakota Department of Transportation also reported damages totaling $29.7 million to its network of Federal Aid System (FAS) roads.

In addition to public assistance, Burgum also is asking that the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program be implemented on a statewide basis to help communities pay for flood mitigation projects that increase resiliency and reduce costs in the long run.

President Trump and FEMA granted Burgum’s request for a presidential disaster declaration last June in response to 2019 spring flooding in 19 North Dakota counties.