Local officials were briefed Wednesday regarding the Federal Emergency Management Agency's planned efforts to aid local communities recovering from damages incurred last October, according to Kim Franklin, Stutsman County assistant emergency manager.
"FEMA will assign a program delivery manager to inspect the damage," she said. "The meeting was to go over the rules and necessary documentation to proceed."
President Donald Trump issued a disaster declaration on Jan. 21 for 16 counties: Barnes, Eddy, Foster, Grand Forks, Griggs, Kidder, LaMoure, Logan, Mountrail, Nelson, Sargent, Sheridan, Stutsman, Traill, Walsh and Wells. The declaration covers damages from flooding between Oct. 9 and Oct. 26.
The disaster declaration covers only public property and provides no benefits to private property owners. The declaration covers costs associated with damages caused by the flooding that followed an October snowstorm and not the costs of snow removal at the time of the storm, Franklin said.
Franklin said the declaration covers a pretty narrow window of time but the area incurred a lot of damage during that 17-day period.
Preliminary damage estimates submitted to FEMA by the state of North Dakota in support of the application for the disaster declaration totaled $9.7 million, according to reports in November. Of that total, Stutsman County submitted $4.2 million in damages mostly to county and township roads. Any township or city that did not participate in the preliminary damage estimate now has until March 21 to make an application for FEMA assistance, Franklin said.
The next step is the naming of an official from the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services as the program delivery manager. That will be followed by more meetings and ultimately surveys and documentation of damages. Site surveys will likely be conducted after the snow melts and the entire process will likely take into the summer, Franklin said.
Once a site is approved, FEMA would cover 75% of the cost of repair with the state of North Dakota funding 10%. Local governments must cover 15% of the cost of damages, Franklin said.
Nicole Melland, Stutsman County auditor and chief operating officer, said the county has two funds it can draw on to pay its share. The Stutsman County Commission will determine whether to take the local costs from the County Emergency Fund, which can only be spent if an emergency or disaster has been declared, or the County Highway Aid Fund. Both funds receive money from local property taxes.
It will be up to each township and small city to determine how it will cover its local share, Melland said.
Documents presented at the meeting indicate FEMA anticipates covering costs for debris removal, emergency projects, road and bridge repair, water control, building and equipment repair, utilities and park and recreation facility repairs.
Melland said FEMA is also anticipating the possibility of another disaster declaration this spring to cover possible additional flood damage.
Franklin said the bulk of the projects in Stutsman County will be related to road and bridge repair and water control.