FARGO – Gov. Jack Dalrymple said Monday the state will continue working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to upgrade the state’s limited presidential emergency declaration to include a federal cost-share for flood-fighting efforts and preparations.
Dalrymple took FEMA Regional Administrator Robin Finegan on an aerial tour this morning over widespread flooding in Fargo, Cass County and other areas of the Red River Valley.
Rep. Rick Berg, Major Gen. David Sprynczynatyk of the National Guard, Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker and Cass County Commissioner Darrell Vanyo also joined in the helicopter tour.
“I appreciate that Robin Finegan decided to come here, and I think she now has a much better appreciation for what we’re up against,” Dalrymple said. “We will continue to work with FEMA for a full emergency declaration that includes a federal commitment to help cover local costs of preparing for and fighting floods.”
President Obama approved a limited disaster declaration on Thursday, which made available federal agencies and their resources to help in the flood fight.
But under terms of the declaration, FEMA will pay 75 percent of costs incurred by federal agencies that support the flood fight only as of April 5 or after.
Unlike in past years, the declaration does not yet provide guaranteed federal funding in advance to help pay for flood costs.
The expenses incurred in flood preparations and repairs will have to be fully documented before FEMA will commit to a 75 percent cost-share.
Dalrymple encouraged North Dakota communities facing spring flooding to assess damages as flood waters recede and to document direct costs.
Dalrymple said the state will again request FEMA make funding available to help cover the costs of preventive measures and flood damages, even as the state’s flood fight continues to move up the Red River Valley and across the state.
The federal lawmakers praised local and state government leaders for their preparation efforts in what’s become the fourth highest flood in recorded history for the Red River. Hoeven and Conrad again emphasized their support for a full disaster declaration.
“Clearly, strong cooperation between federal, state and local partners is key to mounting a successful flood fight, which is why we must continue to work together to ensure that the president approve the Governor’s original disaster declaration request covering all of the difficult preparation that has gone into this flood fight effort,” Hoeven said in a statement.
FEMA officials said federal funding could be improved if the state and local governments incur at least $1 million in damages and costs for flood prevention.
Dalrymple said those costs across the state should far exceed the $1-million threshold.
“It doesn’t take long to add up to millions in damages,” Dalrymple said Sunday, referring to the approximately 60 miles of Cass County roadways made impassable by flooding.
This morning, Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney also reiterated his frustration at the lack of an emergency declaration for this year’s flood fight.
“We want the world to know what is going on here,” he said. “We still haven’t gotten our (full) declaration – and that is concerning. Big-time concerning.”