WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today that federal disaster aid was made available to help North Dakota recover from the effects of a prolonged period of extreme weather conditions that began earlier this year.
FEMA Director James Lee Witt said the assistance was authorized under a major disaster declaration issued for the state by President Clinton this afternoon. The declaration covers damage to private and public property from severe storms, tornadoes, snow and ice, flooding, ground saturation, landslides and mudslides that plagued much of the state starting March 1.
Immediately after the President's action, Witt designated the following jurisdictions eligible for aid to stricken residents and business owners: The counties of Barnes, Benson, Bottineau, Burleigh, Cass, Dickey, Emmons, Foster, Grand Forks, Griggs, Kidder, LaMoure, Logan, McHenry, McIntosh, McLean, Mountrail, Nelson, Pembina, Pierce, Ramsey, Ransom, Renville, Richland, Rolette, Sargent, Sheridan, Steele, Stutsman, Towner, Traill, Walsh, Ward and Wells; and the American Indian reservations of the Devil's Lake Sioux Tribe, the Fort Berthold Tribe and the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa.
The assistance, to be coordinated by FEMA, can include grants to help pay for temporary housing, minor home repairs and other serious disaster-related expenses. Low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration also will be available to cover residential and business losses not fully compensated by insurance.
Additionally, Witt said federal funds will be provided for the state and affected local governments in the designated jurisdictions to pay 75 percent of the eligible cost for debris removal, emergency services related to the disaster, and repairing or replacing damaged public facilities. The declaration also makes cost-shared funding available to the state for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks.
Witt indicated that additional counties may be designated for aid later if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments. He named Lesli A. Rucker, of FEMA's regional office in Denver, to coordinate the federal relief effort.
Rucker said residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated areas can begin the disaster application process by calling 1-800-462-9029, or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will be available starting Wednesday, June 9, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.