FARGO, N.D. - Governor Jack Dalrymple today encouraged North Dakota communities that have battled major spring flooding to assess damages as flood waters recede and to document direct costs. Dalrymple said the state will continue working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to upgrade the state's limited presidential emergency declaration to include a federal cost-share for flood-fighting efforts.
Dalrymple took FEMA Regional Administrator Robin Finegan on an aerial tour of widespread flooding in Fargo, Cass County and other areas of the Red River Valley. Other officials joining in the helicopter tour included Congressman Rick Berg, Major General David Sprynczynatyk, adjutant general, Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker and Cass County Commissioner Darrell Vanyo. Dalrymple and other state and local officials also took Finegan on a ground tour of area flooding Sunday.
"I appreciate that Robin Finegan decided to come here and I think she now has a much better appreciation for what we're up against," Dalrymple said. "We will continue to work with FEMA for a full emergency declaration that includes a federal commitment to help cover local costs of preparing for and fighting floods."
On April 7, President Obama approved a limited emergency declaration that makes available federal agencies and their resources to help in the flood fight. Under terms of the declaration, FEMA will pay 75 percent of costs incurred by federal agencies that support the flood fight as of April 5 or after. Unlike in past years, the declaration does not yet provide guaranteed federal funding in advance to help pay for flood costs. The expenses incurred in flood preparations and repairs will have to be fully documented before FEMA will commit to a 75 percent cost-share.
Dalrymple said the state will again request FEMA make funding available to help cover the costs of preventive measures and flood damages once waters recede and damages can be assessed, even as the state's flood fight continues to move up the Red River Valley and across the state.
Ed Conley, FEMA's Region 8 external affairs director, said federal funding could be available if the state and local government incur at least $1 million in damages and costs for flood prevention.
Dalrymple said flood costs across the state will far exceed the $1-million threshold.
Dalrymple started ordering the active duty of National Guard members before flooding began. Today, about 425 National Guard members are assisting in flood fighting efforts in Fargo and throughout Cass County. The soldiers are monitoring levees and pumps 24 hours a day. The National Guard also is operating "quick reaction forces," small teams that stand ready to respond to immediate emergencies. Serving in major flood areas such as Argusville and Harwood, these soldiers have rescued an elderly man who was trapped in his home; they've rescued stranded motorists and have shored up temporary levees breached by rising water.
Another 12 soldiers were deployed to Drayton today to help residents combat flooding and about 90 more are leaving for Valley City where residents are battling the Sheyenne River. State officials also are monitoring flooding along the Souris River upstream and downstream from Minot. In all about 500 National Guard members are assisting flood fighting efforts in the state.
The North Dakota Department of Transportation closed a section of I-29 north of Harwood at 6pm Sunday due to water flowing over the northbound and southbound lanes. The DOT is monitoring the roadway and will provide public announcements regarding the interstate's status. About 60 miles of roads in rural Cass County remain closed due to high water. Dalrymple and county officials are urging all motorists not to drive through moving water.
The state's flood fight involves all state agencies including the Department of Human Services which has developed evacuation plans and reception centers in the event that vulnerable citizens have to be relocated, and the Department of Transportation which continues to monitor and provide public notifications about roadway conditions.
FEMA is overseeing the assistance of about nine federal agencies that are aiding state and local governments in their flood fights. Federal agencies supporting the state's flood fight include the U.S. Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.