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FEMA visits local counties, assesses damage

Press Photo by Ashley Martin Dunn County road foreman Eldon Rohde, left, FEMA representative Jim Anderson, center, and Rick Martel, from North Dakota Emergency Management, assess a damaged box culvert on Thursday near Halliday. FEMA teams have been assessing flood damage in the area this week.

A Federal Emergency Management Agency team examined a box culvert Thursday near Halliday that was damaged from an ice jam earlier this spring.

Preliminary Damage Assessment teams from FEMA have been combing area counties and assessing damage caused by flooding to determine if federal assistance is needed.

Debbie Simon, FEMA representative, said cost estimates for damages have not been totaled.

"Because it's still ongoing, it will take a little while to get estimates," Simon said

She added cost totals will be released as soon as FEMA can get them out, but she was unsure when that would be.

"We're looking at damage done to roadways, bridges and infrastructure," said Simon.

Simon said all the counties which have declared a flood emergency have or will be visited by FEMA representatives in the next couple of days. They plan to be done with state wide preliminary assessments by the end of the week.

Teams were in Hettinger County Wednesday and in Dunn and Adams counties Thursday.

Denise Brew, Dunn County emergency manager, said three culverts washed out during recent flooding in Dunn County.

"A lot of the other damages are to roads," Brew said. "There's no bridges at risk. We were lucky there."

Federal agencies designated $2.5 million for emergency response work in 34 counties that have declared a need for public assistance, Simon said.

Adams, Dunn and Hettinger counties have declared a need for public assistance, which would go to counties and cities. Hettinger, Adams and Billings counties have said property owners also need assistance.

Another group of inspectors will come out later to figure the cost to repair damages, Simon said. She said if federal aid is administered, counties could begin to receive funding for repairs within months.

"It doesn't happen overnight. It takes time for people to come out and do this stuff," Simon said. "It's not anywhere near as fast as we wish it could be."