Delegation Calls On Napolitano, Fugate To Reconsider Individual Assistance Decision

WASHINGTON – Senators John Hoeven and Kent Conrad and Congressman Rick Berg today called on U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate to reconsider FEMA’s denial of Individual Assistance (IA) program services to residents of North Dakota hard hit by flooding this spring.

 The Delegation sent a letter to both officials today in support of Governor Jack Dalrymple’s request for a reevaluation of the decision in light of additional information being provided by a number of counties. North Dakota state officials say the damage and dislocation is extensive, including more than 800 homes in the Bismarck-Mandan area that have been evacuated, several hundred structures in Devils Lake that have been damaged, and 10,000 residents of Minot who have been forced to leave their homes and secure shelter elsewhere. Many residents are incurring significant expenses while they are forced out of their homes by high water. 

Because the flood event is ongoing, assessments from Burleigh, Morton and Ward counties were not yet completed at the time of the agency’s decision, the delegation said. They urged the officials to reevaluate their decision promptly in consideration of damage to these and other impacted North Dakota communities.  

“Thousands of residents are already displaced, and they have every expectation that they will continue to be throughout the summer. They need help as soon as possible,” the delegation said. 

FEMA’s Individual Assistance program can provide financial help to pay for temporary housing, repairs to homes, and funding toward replacement of a home that has been destroyed. It also includes “Other Needs Assistance,” which may cover medical, transportation, moving and storage, and other expenses associated with personal loss due to flooding.  People who have lost their jobs or are unable to reach their place of work may also be eligible for assistance. 

Governor Dalrymple on May 23 asked FEMA to include IA in the federal disaster declaration the President issued earlier this year. Yesterday, however, FEMA notified the Governor that it had denied the request, saying “the damage to the residences from this event was not of such severity and magnitude as to warrant the implementation of Individual Assistance….” 

“The human impact of this year’s flooding should be readily apparent to the agency’s 95 FEMA representatives on the ground throughout the state,” the delegation said in a joint statement. “We strongly encourage Secretary Napolitano and Administrator Fugate to reevaluate this decision in light of additional evidence that the state will be providing and the visible hardship being endured by residents.”