Mark Klose, chairman of the Stutsman County Commission, declared an emergency on Tuesday, Oct. 16, activating the Combined Emergency Operations Plan for the county due to increased water releases from both the Jamestown and Pipestem dams.
The Combined Emergency Operations Plan monitors the situation, develops a detailed damage assessment and initiates appropriate relief actions and mitigation measures by departments and agencies of local government to limit the impact of the emergency on Stutsman County residents.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is currently releasing a combined 1,800 cubic feet per second of water from both dams and may need to increase releases in order to achieve prescribed winter elevations. A public informational meeting is at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 16, at City Hall.
Stutsman County has seen record-breaking rain and snow amounts this fall, which has created saturated soils and excessive run-off causing extensive damage to county, township and city roads and other public facilities, the declaration said.
The city of Jamestown requested assistance from the county to help establish protective measures required to protect the community from higher releases. The declaration says the county emergency was declared due to the county's own workload and lack of expertise to assist with flood protection projects as well as the cost of protection, cleanup, repair and replacement of damaged facilities would be in excess of county, township and city resources.
Jamestown Mayor Dwaine Heinrich issued an emergency declaration on Monday, Oct. 14, that was approved by the City Council. A county level declaration is required if the city chooses to ask for specialized flood fighting assistance from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, according to Jerry Bergquist, Stutsman County emergency manager.
Bergquist said the county declaration also brings attention to the county's deteriorating township road network. Township roads have slowly been succumbing to high water over the last several months with the above-normal precipitation the region has received, Bergquist said.
"Many roads are becoming either soft/undrivable or completely inundated with water as the very wet snow from last weekend's record storm begins to melt," Bergquist said in a news release. "There is currently no outside funding available to assist with road repairs."
According to North Dakota state law, an emergency declaration made by a principal elected official may remain in effect for a maximum of seven days. For the declaration to continue after that, the consent from the entire County Commission would be required.
The continuation of the declaration has been added to the agenda for the County Commission meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 22.