Delegation Urges President to Sign Winter Storm Disaster Declaration
North Dakota Has Requested Federal Assistance for Nine Counties
Washington - Senators Kent Conrad and John Hoeven and Congressman Rick Berg sent a letter to President Barack Obama today urging him to sign North Dakota's request for a major disaster declaration to respond to a severe winter storm. If approved, a presidential disaster declaration would make federal funding available to help counties cover the costs of storm damages and help rural electric cooperatives cover costs to replace utility poles and to repair power lines and other electrical infrastructure.
On April 29, a storm carrying freezing rain with snow and wind gusts of up to 60 miles per hour struck the region. The storm stranded motorists, uprooted trees, downed utility poles and cut power to an estimated 30,000 people. This storm has placed great strain on the ability of the state and local governments to respond and recover.
"Local utility providers mounted a massive effort to repair storm damage; however, restoration in some areas could take four weeks. We also understand that the lack of power placed a burden on many farmers and ranchers who are in the middle of calving season and are working tirelessly to prevent the loss of young livestock," the delegation said in the letter.
On May 3, Governor Jack Dalrymple issued an executive order declaring a winter storm emergency. On Friday, the state requested a federal disaster declaration. Counties currently included in the disaster declaration request are: Bottineau, Burke, Divide, Dunn, McKenzie, Mountrail, Renville, Ward and Williams. Also included in the request are the rural electric cooperatives of Burke-Divide, Lower Yellowstone, McKenzie, Mountrail-Williams, North Central, Sheridan and Verendrye.
A copy of the letter is below.
May 17, 2011
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We write in strong support of the State of North Dakota's request for a major disaster declaration to respond to a severe winter storm.
From April 29 through May 2, the western and central portions of the state were in the direct line of a winter storm. Freezing rain, strong wind gusts, and heavy, wet snow caused significant damage to several Rural Electric Cooperatives (RECs) in the region. At the storm's peak, more than 30,000 were without power. Around 10,000 business and residential customers were without power in the city of Williston and Williams County. Emergency generators had to be utilized at considerable expense to keep power to the city's law enforcement center, fire department, and hospital. Residents also were unable to access water from wells or from the local rural water system due to the outages, and many reported water in the basements of their homes when sump pumps became inoperable. Repair crews have struggled to reach downed poles and lines to restore power because of already saturated ground conditions and additional precipitation.
The State has requested Public Assistance for nine counties. Local utility providers mounted a massive effort to repair storm damage; however, restoration in some areas could take four weeks. We also understand that the lack of power placed a burden on many farmers and ranchers who are in the middle of calving season and are working tirelessly to prevent the loss of young livestock.
This storm has placed great strain on the ability of the state and local governments to respond and recover, and we urge you to quickly approve the state's request. Thank you for your prompt attention to this request. If we can provide any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us.
KENT CONRAD JOHN HOEVEN RICK BERG
U.S. Senate U.S. Senate U.S. House
Next Article Previous Article