Floodwatchers in ND monitoring rainstormsBISMARCK (AP) — Officials monitoring the surging Missouri River in the Bismarck-Mandan area are keeping a close eye on storms passing through the state Friday.
BISMARCK (AP) — Officials monitoring the surging Missouri River in the Bismarck-Mandan area are keeping a close eye on storms passing through the state Friday.
The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for western and central North Dakota through Friday night. Forecasters said the storms could drop 1½ inches of rain, with even more expected in some areas.
The storms arrived the same day the Army Corps of Engineers increased releases from Garrison Dam to 150,000 cubic feet per second — the maximum planned. The corps said heavy rain could result in even higher releases, though “we have a lot of rain built into our model right now,” Jody Farhat, the corps’ chief of Missouri River Basin water management, said.
The corps is releasing record amounts of water through dams on the Missouri River because of heavy spring snowmelt and rains. Flooding also has hit other North Dakota river basins this spring, including the Red, Souris, and Little Missouri, and there has been widespread overland flooding in rural areas.
A federal disaster declaration that covers 42 of the state’s 53 counties along with three American Indian reservations opens the door to federal aid to help with flood costs related to public infrastructure. However, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has rejected the state’s application for assistance for private homeowners and businesses affected by flooding.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple late Thursday said the state will appeal.
“There is a reason why there currently are 95 FEMA personnel in North Dakota,” Dalrymple said. “Any person who is paying any attention whatsoever can easily see the tremendous damages to property across the state. Many people who have left their homes cannot wait for assistance with living expenses.”
About 10,000 Minot residents had to leave for a time earlier this month when the Souris rose to dangerous levels, and more than 800 homes in the Bismarck-Mandan area have been evacuated because of the rising Missouri.
FEMA spokesman Brian Hvinden on Friday said North Dakota’s request for individual aid came before the most severe flooding along the Souris and Missouri rivers. He encouraged people impacted by flooding to call the state’s flood damage reporting hotline at 1-877-212-0316.
“The state does have 30 days to appeal this decision, and with that appeal they can provide supporting documents to request a reversal,” he said. “We want to have as much information as we can to the level of damages that have been suffered in Bismarck-Mandan and certainly other parts of the state as well.
The North Dakota Public Finance Authority and the state-owned Bank of North Dakota are offering low-interest disaster loans through the end of the year to farmers, businesses and political subdivisions impacted by bad weather including flooding, the state Industrial Commission announced Friday. Dalrymple said the loans to political subdivisions such as counties will help tide them over until federal aid comes in through the federal disaster declaration for public infrastructure.
In western North Dakota, U.S. Forest Service officials on Friday were trying to get a handle on the amount of water-related damage in the 1 million-acre Little Missouri National Grassland. Officials said runoff and saturated ground had led to the sloughing of hillsides, landslides, undercut roads, culvert damage and other problems. The Forest Service last week closed the seven-mile Summit Trail because of unsafe conditions.
Dakota Prairie Grasslands Supervisor Dave Pieper cautioned tourists to be aware of the safety concerns in the grasslands while officials waited for better weather to begin repairs.