Biden grants Burgum’s request for presidential disaster declaration for spring storms, subsequent flooding

Photo by: WDAY Radio Staff
Photo by: WDAY Radio Staff

(Bismarck, ND) -- Governor Doug Burgum is welcoming news Thursday that President Joe Biden has granted 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 June 23rd letter directed to President Biden and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, 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.

The state received notice Thursday that the request was granted covering all 40 counties, and additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and if warranted as a result of further damage assessments. All areas of North Dakota also are eligible for assistance under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which helps communities pay for projects that increase resiliency and reduce costs in the long term.

“We appreciate President Biden and FEMA granting our request and recognizing the incredible hardship that this combination of severe storms and flooding caused for our farmers and ranchers, communities, local governments and first responders,” said Burgum in a released statement to WDAY Radio. “This presidential disaster declaration will unlock FEMA public assistance to help our local governments, agencies and communities recover from extensive infrastructure damage and make resources available to help build resiliency against the long-term risk of future flooding. We’re also grateful to the Minnesota National Guard for its valuable assistance with flood-fighting capabilities under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact.”

From April 22nd to May 25th, 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 22nd-24th storm, which caused major damage to electric grid infrastructure in western North Dakota and kick-started the flooding that impacted the eastern half of North Dakota for the following 30 days. The storm was preceded by an April 12th-14th blizzard that dumped more than 30 inches of snow on some areas and was exacerbated by a third storm April 29th-30th that dumped record rainfall. April 2022 was the second wettest April on record in North Dakota.