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Dunn County commissioners discuss floods

MANNING — Dunn County moved into long-term damage control mode Wednesday, formally declaring a disaster state from weekend flooding and discussing FEMA assistance.

If the Federal Emergency Management Agency gets involved, it will cover 75 percent of the costs. The state traditionally covers 10 percent and local jurisdictions cover 15 percent, but that 25 percent breakdown isn’t yet determined in this case, said Cecily Fong, spokeswoman for the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services.

“Sometimes the state will kick in more,” Fong said.

Since Dunn County is the only county that has requested an assessment, Fong said, it has to meet the statewide threshold of $1 million in damages to public infrastructure on its own.

State and federal personnel will likely do an assessment soon to find the total cost of damages.

“How it’s gonna proceed is (county officials will) … document all their damages, take pictures, that kind of thing, and if they feel confident that they are gonna meet this million dollars and based on what we’re seeing if we think we’re gonna meet that million dollars … then we would go out and do that (assessment),” Fong said.

Commissioner Donna Scott pushed county employees to document the damages and repairs well in case the county does end up getting federal aid.

“That way, when FEMA comes out, they got it. It’s taken care of,” she said at their monthly meeting Wednesday.

County officials aren’t worried about hitting the million-dollar mark.

County employees have already been out surveying the damage, taking pictures and doing preliminary repairs on especially bad roads to make them driveable.

“Given the timing, from a weather standpoint, it’s better to get on it because they’re … gonna run out of construction season,” Fong said.

Commissioners brought up harvest and winter as time crunches.

“We’re coming into the harvest season,” Commissioner Daryl Dukart said. “We have some responsibility to help them get to the fields and get harvested.”

Commissioner Reinhard Hauck brought up the possibility of bringing in contractors to help, “because we aren’t gonna get this done before freeze-up. That’s a given.”

Road Superintendent Mike Zimmerman showed a slideshow of badly damaged roads to commissioners Wednesday as they discussed the worst-hit areas.

Nineteenth Street Southwest, near the Knife River, was a severely hit area as more than 15 farmsteads badly flooded. Residents reported basements with 7 feet of water, horses washed away and drowned crops. Parts of the county saw as much as 10 inches of rain over a short period.

“It’s a tremendous amount of damage,” Dukart said.

Hauck said the county may have to halt some other road projects since these repairs are going to “take a big chunk” of the county’s budget.

Even later in the meeting, as representatives of the High Plains Cultural Center project in Killdeer asked for more financial help from the county, commissioners said with the flooding they’ll need to do some number-crunching before committing any more funds.

Zimmerman excused himself from the meeting late Wednesday morning after he finished his roads update.

“Yeah,” Hauck told him. “I think you need to get to work.”

Lymn is a reporter for The Press. Contact her at (701) 456-1211 or tweet her at kathlymn.