Gov. Doug Burgum this morning signed an executive order declaring a statewide flood emergency, paving the way for requests for federal assistance to help North Dakotans deal with significant flooding impacts caused by heavy fall rains and a historic October blizzard.
The statewide disaster declaration comes as Burgum, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring and other state officials planned to attend meetings today with local officials, community members and agricultural producers in Fargo, Grand Forks, Jamestown and Fessenden to hear firsthand about the potentially devastating impacts of the unusually wet weather and to share information about the state’s response, including gathering information for possible requests for a USDA secretarial disaster designation and a presidential disaster declaration.
“There’s an economic hardship that we’re facing here relative to this fall’s harvest that is likely unprecedented,” Burgum said during this morning’s meeting at Fargo City Hall with Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney, Cass County Commission Chair Mary Scherling, West Fargo Mayor Bernie Dardis, dozens of other local, state and federal officials, representatives of the state’s congressional delegation, community members and area farmers. “We have a whole team of people across the state who will be activated as part of our whole-of-government approach.”
“This is a challenging time for many of our agricultural producers across the state,” Goehring said. “We want to do as much as we can to help assess what the losses and damages are out there and what the next steps will be.”
Eight counties and four cities in North Dakota have issued flood emergency declarations so far, with more expected. Emergencies have been declared in the counties of Barnes, Cavalier, Grand Forks, LaMoure, Stutsman, Traill, Walsh and Wells and the cities of Grand Forks, Jamestown, LaMoure and Valley City.
A USDA secretarial disaster designation would unlock financial assistance through the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Plus Program, or WHIP+. Payments from the program take into account a producer’s crop insurance coverage and the size of the loss. A presidential disaster declaration would include public assistance for emergency work and the repair or replacement of damaged road infrastructure.
During the visits, Burgum and Goehring will explain the state’s whole-of-government approach to dealing with floods. They will be joined by representatives from a host of state agencies, including the state Department of Emergency Services, Department of Agriculture, Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Human Services, Department of Health, Department of Transportation and the State Water Commission.
The state agency representatives will be available to provide additional information on a range of recovery topics, including agricultural and clean-up resources, mental and behavioral health assistance and flood insurance.