Gov. Jack Dalrymple today announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved his request for a federal disaster declaration to help rural electric cooperatives and local governments in seven counties recover from major damages caused by an early winter storm. The Governor requested the federal disaster declaration on Tuesday, Oct. 22.
"The storm created widespread power outages and caused major damage to power systems and other infrastructure," Dalrymple said. "This declaration makes federal funding available to help our rural electric cooperatives and local governments cover the significant costs associated with restoring services."
FEMA approved Dalrymple's request for federal disaster assistance for Adams, Bowman, Grant, Hettinger, Morton, Sioux and Slope counties. Additional counties could be added to the disaster declaration based on any updated damage assessments.
The early winter storm, which struck southwestern and south central North Dakota on Oct. 4 and 5, brought blizzard conditions that included wind gusts reaching 50 miles per hour and nearly two feet of snow. The storm downed roughly 2,000 utility poles and transmission lines, caused major damage to roads and other public infrastructure as well as livestock and crop losses. Roads already damaged by the storm were made worse by heavy equipment required to restore power. More than 9,800 electricity customers lost power, many for as long as two weeks. Local governments and the Southwest Water Authority also incurred unforeseen costs to maintain services, remove debris and repair damages.
The governor's request for federal assistance followed the completion of a preliminary damage assessment by federal, state and local officials. The preliminary assessment shows that the early winter storm caused an estimated $7.98 million in damages to power utilities and public infrastructure. Most of the damages were sustained by two rural electric cooperatives, Slope Electric and Mor-Gran-Sou. The Southwest Water Authority incurred about $25,000 in costs as part of its emergency response to maintain water service and local governments also face costs for road repairs and debris removal.