Request for presidential disaster declaration related to ice storm approved

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Feb. 21—BISMARCK — President Joe Biden has

approved

Gov. Doug Burgum's request for a presidential major disaster declaration for a severe winter ice storm and straight-line winds that caused more than $11.5 million in estimated damage over the Christmas holiday.

The disaster declaration for the Dec. 25-27 event was approved for all 13 counties requested — Barnes, Cass, Dickey, Grant, LaMoure, Logan, McIntosh, Ransom, Richland, Sargent, Steele, Stutsman and Traill.

The presidential disaster declaration unlocks FEMA public assistance to help pay for the costs of repairing damaged infrastructure.

Freezing rain and winds in excess of 40 mph combined to destroy more than 2,000 power poles and forced the closure of major highways and other roads due to life-threatening conditions.

Several other counties were also impacted by the event but didn't sustain enough damage to exceed the per-capita threshold for being included in the declaration.

Burgum

declared a statewide emergency

Dec. 29 for infrastructure damage related to the storm.

"North Dakotans from across our state worked together to recover from this storm, from the utility crews and linemen who helped restore power to the state and local emergency management teams, road crews, first responders, health care workers and others who protected citizens' safety," Burgum said. "We appreciate President Biden and FEMA granting our request and making assistance available to local jurisdictions affected by this historic event, which knocked out power to over 20,000 residents in the worst ice storm since 1997. We're grateful to the state and local agencies and utility companies that safeguarded our citizens, and to our congressional delegation for supporting this disaster declaration request."

Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer and Rep. Kelly Armstrong said in a joint statement that the delegation

made the case

for the declaration earlier this month, outlining the widespread damage resulting from the storm.

"This is welcome news for the ongoing recovery and mitigation efforts across North Dakota," the delegation said. "This ice storm downed thousands of power lines, left tens of thousands of residents without power and caused significant hardship for communities across the state. The resources made available by this declaration will provide an important support to the 13 listed counties."

The federal government also granted the governor's request for the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to be implemented on a statewide basis to help communities pay for projects that increase resiliency and reduce costs in the long run.