Four N.D. Counties Get Disaster Declaration

Bank of North Dakota has relief funds for farmers and businesses.

Gov. John Hoeven has issued a disaster declaration for four counties in eastern North Dakota and requested a preliminary damage assessment from FEMA.

"We have seen significant wind and hail damage across a widespread area resulting from thunderstorms and other weather-related incidents," Hoeven said, in a statement released by his office. "We're now asking FEMA to conduct damage assessments of electrical power transmission infrastructure and other widespread storm damages that have affected farm families and small business owners. The assessment is a prerequisite to obtaining additional federal recovery assistance."

The losses resulted from a storm that occurred on Sunday, July 15, 2007, in Barnes, Cass, Ransom and Steele counties.

Cass County Electric Cooperative reported scattered power outages on the evening of July 15 from Hope to Sheldon, with line crews tracing a 54-mile long, 12-mile wide path of damage through their service area. The Western Area Power Administration reported that a total of 36 towers supplying electricity between Jamestown and Fargo were knocked down. Early WAPA estimates show damages up to $3 million. Minnkota Power Cooperative estimated additional losses at approximately $1 million with at total of 49 power transmission towers and power poles down.

The National Weather Service reported possible tornado activity near the western edge of Tower City where a house roof was ripped off, and an area south of Embden where a high voltage electrical transmission tower was plucked out of its anchor system, indicating significant updraft. Nearby electrical transmission towers were likely blown over as a result of downdraft winds.

"The disaster declaration for the four additional counties enables us to provide needed assistance to communities and rural electric cooperatives that have had damage to their public infrastructure from recent severe storms," Hoeven said "We're making state resources available to support local emergency management agencies currently involved in recovering from the storm."

A National Weather Service storm damage survey team assessed portions of the July 15 storm path and determined that tornadoes had touched down in Cass and Ransom counties. Downburst wind damage was nearly continuous in a path from five to seven miles wide indicating winds often exceeded 80 miles per hour (mph) and may have reached over 100 mph in some locations. Hail ranging in size from one-half inch to two inches in diameter accompanied the high winds causing a 70-mile long path of destruction from the town of Hope in Steele County, continuing south through the town of McLeod in Ransom County. Hail damage ranged from stripped leaves and corn tops to decimated crops with nothing but stubble remaining.

Hoeven cited the storm as a strong example of the need for disaster assistance in the upcoming Farm Bill. "Storms like this demonstrate why it's so important to have permanent disaster assistance incorporated into the new Farm Bill. That is the message we carried to Washington, D.C. this week when we met with congressional and administration officials, and we will continue to press that message at every opportunity."

"Severe summer storms can develop quickly and can be very destructive, as demonstrated by these recent storms," said Division of Homeland Security Director Greg Wilz. "It is important for everyone to be well-informed and prepared to cope with severe summer storms. We urge those impacted by severe storm activity to document and report damages to their local emergency management official to aid in identifying necessary response measures."

The Bank of North Dakota has disaster relief loan programs available for affected farmers and businesses in any North Dakota county. More information on Bank of North Dakota lending services can be found on their website, www.banknd.nd.gov/bndhome.jsp.  

Source: N.D. governor's office

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