Burgum requests presidential major disaster declaration for June storm damage

K. William Boyer
Devils Lake Journal

BISMARCK – Gov. Doug Burgum has requested a presidential major disaster declaration for a series of storms in early June that caused overland flooding and produced damaging winds and hail, resulting in more than $2.3 million in damage to roads and other infrastructure. 

In a letter today directed to President Joe Biden through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Burgum requested that a major disaster be declared for eight counties: Burke, Divide, Emmons, Grant, Kidder, LaMoure, Sioux and Williams.

17. North Dakota     • Total unique tornadoes (1950 – 2018):  1,578     • Total damage since 1996:  $114.5 million     • Total fatalities since 1950:  38     • Most destructive tornado on record:  $50.0 million, on Sunday, August 26, 2007 Photo: Tornadoes struck the northern North Dakota town of Rolla in July of 2008.     ALSO READ: Tornado Alley’s Most Devastating Years

The June 7-11 storms tore across the state for five days, producing tornadoes, up to baseball-size hail, damaging winds of up to 93 miles per hour and torrential rainfall that led to overland flooding, which was exacerbated by dried-out, nearly impermeable topsoil.

Burgum noted the impacts occurred at a time when North Dakota is experiencing one of the worst droughts on record, and when the state already has six open presidential disasters totaling over $150 million in costs for which local and tribal jurisdictions are struggling to meet their cost shares.

“These unrelenting storms caused extensive damage to homes and businesses, damaged roads and bridges, and snapped power poles and downed power lines, cutting off service to several communities,” Burgum said. “We appreciate the administration considering our request for assistance to help communities recover from these storms and build resiliency against future severe weather events.”

In response to the June 7-11 storms, Burgum today issued an executive order formally mobilizing state resources and ensuring a coordinated approach to the needs of citizens and their communities.

If granted, a presidential declaration would unlock FEMA public assistance to help cities, counties and townships pay for the costs of repairing roads and other infrastructure. Preliminary assessments indicate damage is expected to exceed $2.33 million. 

In addition, Burgum also is asking that the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program be implemented on a statewide basis to help communities pay for projects that increase resiliency and reduce costs in the long term.