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$8.3M approved for ND counties hit by early winter storm

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The Dickinson Press
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BISMARCK – Seven counties in southwestern North Dakota will receive more than $8.3 million in federal and state funds to help them recover from a severe winter storm Oct. 4-5, with most of the money going to rural electric cooperatives for permanent repairs to downed power lines and poles.

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The state Emergency Commission approved the spending during a brief meeting Tuesday. It includes more than $7.3 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and $1 million in state funds.

The early winter storm dumped nearly two feet of snow and packed wind gusts of up to 50 miles per hour, downing about 2,000 utility poles and transmission lines, damaging roads and crops and killing livestock. More than 9,800 customers lost power, some for up to two weeks.

Damage from the storm totaled about $9.8 million, mostly to power lines and poles, said Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, adjutant general of North Dakota. Removal of trees and other debris also was a big expense, he said.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple’s request for a presidential disaster declaration was approved Oct. 31, making federal aid available to Adams, Bowman, Grant, Hettinger, Morton, Sioux and Slope counties.

The two co-ops affected by the storm, Mor-Gran-Sou Electric and Slope Electric, will receive the bulk of the assistance, putting up a 15 percent local cost-share to the 75 percent federal share and 10 percent state share, Sprynczynatyk said. Any insurance payments the co-ops receive will be deducted from the aid, he said.

Sprynczynatyk said the funding is “huge” as the co-ops continue to install permanent replacements for temporary power lines and poles.

“It’s critical for them to be able to continue to serve the people of southwest North Dakota,” he said.

The Emergency Commission also approved about $6 million in FEMA and state funding for disaster-related expenses associated with severe storms and flooding from May 17 to June 15, and roughly $5 million for costs associated with Red River Valley flooding in April and May. Both amounts were increased from earlier estimates.

The six-member commission consists of Gov. Jack Dalrymple, Secretary of State Al Jaeger, Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner of Dickinson, House Majority Leader Al Carlson of Fargo, Senate Appropriations Chairman Ray Holmberg of Grand Forks and House Appropriations Chairman Jeff Delzer of Underwood.

Readers can reach Forum News Service reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 255-5607 or by email at mnowatzki@forumcomm.com

 
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Mike Nowatzki
Mike Nowatzki reports for Forum News Service. He can be reached at (701) 255-5607.
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