With extremely wet conditions, localized flooding and an early snowstorm impacting farmers, ranchers and many other individuals and communities across North Dakota, Gov. Doug Burgum and Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring continue to work to offer the state’s full support, pursue all federal assistance options and encourage friends and neighbors to reach out to each other.
“The economic impacts and stress from this unprecedented fall flooding situation are serious and real,” Burgum said. “North Dakotans historically have come together to help each other in times of crisis, and we encourage individuals to accept help if they’re struggling with stress, or reach out to others if they see them struggling emotionally.”
Goehring reminded producers that they shouldn’t face difficult times alone. “Many times farmers and ranchers feel they should be able to manage any problems on their own, but these factors are beyond your control,” he said. “The emotional stress can be intense and producers need a support structure. If you know someone who is struggling, please be there for them and help them reach out for professional help if needed.”
The North Dakota Department of Human Services’ Behavioral Health team encourages neighbors to help one another. If someone you know is struggling, you can make the difference. More information is available on a new webpage at www.behavioralhealth.nd.gov/prevention/suicide, including how to talk with and support someone under stress and at risk, warning signs, action steps, and links to connect with behavioral health services in the state, as well as other resources. It is important to take care of yourself while supporting others by getting enough rest, eating healthy and connecting with others.
“If you know someone who is struggling emotionally or having a hard time, you can be the difference in getting them the help they need,” said Pamela Sagness, director of the Behavioral Health Division. “There are five steps everyone can take: ask, keep them safe, be there, help them connect, and follow up.”
Sagness stressed that if someone is really struggling, talking about feeling hopeless, withdrawing, behaving differently than usual, or showing other warning signs they may be thinking of suicide, be direct. Talk with them and help them find help. Call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Individuals affected by flooding and adverse conditions can find information on other farm and ranch assistance at www.NDResponse.gov.
To date, 18 North Dakota counties have declared emergencies related to flooding or the blizzard: Barnes, Cass, Cavalier, Dickey, Grand Forks, Foster, Griggs, Kidder, LaMoure, McIntosh, Nelson, Richland, Rolette, Steele, Stutsman, Traill, Walsh and Wells. The cities of Grand Forks, Jamestown, LaMoure and Valley City also have declared emergencies. On Monday, Burgum signed an executive order declaring a statewide flood emergency, a critical step in requesting federal disaster declarations to help North Dakotans deal with impacts caused by heavy fall rains and a historic October blizzard.
In separate phone calls Wednesday and Thursday, Goehring and Burgum both urged U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary Bill Northey to release the next round of Market Facilitation Program assistance, due out in November, as soon as possible. The state also is compiling impacts from the October snowstorm to support a request for a USDA secretarial disaster designation. Producers are encouraged to contact their local USDA Farm Service Agency office to discuss eligibility for the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Plus Program (WHIP+), the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Emergency Livestock Assistance Program or other federal assistance.
As a direct result of feedback Burgum and Goehring received during Monday’s community flood meetings, the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) today extended the deadline for removing hay bales from highway rights of way by two weeks, to Nov. 15, because of the statewide flood emergency. Hay bales remaining on rights of way after Nov. 15 will be removed as directed by the NDDOT district engineer. The bales need to be removed for snow management and safety reasons, but many are currently stranded in water-filled ditches.
Goehring noted the Hay Hotline also is still available for those needing more hay or needing hay transported. “We recognize it’s been tough to put forage up and get it hauled this year,” he said.
The Hay Hotline may be reached at 701-425-8454. A self-service Hay Hotline map is also available at http://www.nd.gov/ndda/.