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State needs to pick up big part of the flooding tab

By Staff | May 7, 2009

Forty-three North Dakota counties have applied for, and have been included, in a Presidential Disaster Declaration approved late last month.

Forty -three!

Yes, the excessive snowfall this past winter and flooding this spring have affected nearly every corner of the state. While communities like Fargo, Valley City and Linton received a lot of attention due to severe flooding, several other communities had flooding troubles of their own.

And it doesn’t stop there. The above average snows this winter have taken their toll elsewhere. Pierce County has many sections of roads damaged by runoff from snowmelt, and other counties have similar infrastructure damage to contend with.

Fortunately, the state of North Dakota is in a financial position to come to the aid of its citizens. And it was encouraging to see lawmakers appreciate the urgency of the situation by appropriating an initial $114.5 million for state and local disaster recovery needs. More funds, no doubt, will be needed to meet the full scope of the damage.

The good news is the federal disaster designation allows for three-fourths of approved repairs by FEMA to receive funding for damaged infrastructure, but the state has to be prepared to pick up much of the remaining total and cover those costs that undoubtedly won’t qualify for federal assistance.

Local governing bodies simply don’t have the financial resources in place to pick up part of the costs, especially after a winter which saw county’s snow removal budgets double, and in some places, triple.

Just as North Dakotans came to the aid of their neighbors in holding off rising flood waters and saving property in their communities, state government has to provide the finances to rebuild the damaged infrastructure following the extraordinary past several months of record snows and spring flooding.

Funds are there, and we need to tap into them.

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