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Burgum declares statewide emergency after April storms cause power outages in the west, flooding in the east

According to a news release from the governor’s office, Burgum plans to request presidential disaster declarations for both events.

Flash flooding
Water goes over the roadway on 55th Street North in Grand Forks on Saturday morning, April 23. A portion of the road was closed to traffic.
Sydney Mook / Grand Forks Herald

BISMARCK — North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum has declared a statewide emergency for flooding in eastern North Dakota and widespread utility infrastructure damage caused by a severe winter storm last weekend that has left thousands without electricity in the western part of the state. Additionally, Burgum has declared a disaster for areas impacted by record snowfall during the historic blizzard of April 12-14, based on local costs incurred for snow removal.

According to a news release from the governor’s office, Burgum plans to request presidential disaster declarations for both events. This would unlock federal assistance to help pay for snow removal and infrastructure repairs, including thousands of downed utility poles that need to be replaced in western counties after last weekend’s winter storm brought a combination of freezing rain and high winds.

Portrait of Governor Doug Burgum
Governor Doug Burgum

“From flooding in the east to power outages affecting thousands of residents in the west, to record April snowfall depleting snow removal budgets and hitting ranchers hard during calving season, this April has been an extremely challenging month for all North Dakotans,” Burgum said in the release.

Burgum added the state is “grateful for the whole-of-government response by our state agencies as well as the incredible efforts by local emergency managers, first-responders, road crews, health care workers and others to protect the lives and property of all North Dakota citizens.”

Burgum will visit the Crosby area in far northwest North Dakota on Tuesday to survey infrastructure damage and speak with local officials and residents affected by the weekend storm, the release said.

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April 12-14 blizzard

The April 12-14 blizzard disaster declaration encompasses the three-day blizzard that dumped record amounts of heavy, wet snow on much of North Dakota, with more than 30 inches of snow and wind gusts over 60 mph reported in some areas. Blizzard Haley, as named by the Herald , forced schools to close and wreaked havoc on roads across the state.

That declaration covers 16 counties and the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation. The counties are Billings, Bottineau, Dunn, Golden Valley, Grand Forks, McHenry, McKenzie, McLean, Mercer, Morton, Mountrail, Oliver, Renville, Sheridan, Stark and Ward.

The release noted that snow removal costs typically aren’t eligible for presidential disaster declaration assistance, but said “exceptions may be granted for a historic storm if snow removal costs exceed the state’s infrastructure damage threshold for receiving a presidential declaration.” In North Dakota, that threshold is approximately $1.3 million statewide, the release said.

April 22-24 storms

The emergency declaration for April 22-24 stems from a spring storm that brought freezing rain and high winds that broke hundreds of poles and snapped power lines in western North Dakota and caused flooding to the east.

In western North Dakota, as the freezing rain turned to snow, blizzard-like conditions made many roads impassable and prevented line crews from reaching areas to restore power, the release said. Some were still left without electricity on Monday.

In eastern North Dakota, heavy rains and snowmelt caused creeks and rivers within the Sheyenne and Red River basins to quickly rise and swamped fields and ditches , causing overload flooding and inundating rural roads and state highways. The release said the statewide emergency declaration asks agencies to provide response resources and capabilities and makes North Dakota National Guard resources available if needed to support local and tribal governments.

If a presidential disaster declaration is granted it would unlock FEMA public assistance to help cities, counties and townships pay for the costs of snow removal and repairs to damaged utilities, roads and other infrastructure.

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READ MORE WEATHER STORIES
This explanation will involve a little modern physics.

Related Topics: WEATHERFLOODING
Sydney Mook has been the managing editor at the Herald since April 2021. In her role she edits and assigns stories and helps reporters develop their work for readers.

Mook has been with the Herald since May 2018 and was first hired as the Herald's higher education reporter where she covered UND and other happenings in state higher education. She was later promoted to community editor in 2019.


For story pitches contact her at smook@gfherald.com or call her at 701-780-1134.
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