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Associated Press, Published June 12 2013

North Dakota flood costs top $7M since mid-May

BISMARCK — Heavy rains have caused more than $7 million in flood damages in North Dakota since mid-May and the state will ask the federal government to help cover the costs, the North Dakota National Guard commander said.

Parts of North Dakota recorded record rain fall in May and the state could have “significant damage on top of what we already have” if heavy rains continue in June, Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk told the state Emergency Commission Tuesday.

The Emergency Commission, a panel that includes the governor, secretary of state and legislative leaders, on Tuesday approved more than $39 million in flood-fighting expenses dating back to 2009, including money for the recent damages. Gov. Jack Dalrymple, who is on a trade mission in Norway, was represented by Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley on Tuesday.

A separate panel of lawmakers, called the Budget Section, also must approve the request. The committee is meeting June 18.

Flood-fighting expenses approved by the Emergency Commission include $11.1 million in federal funds and about $28 million from the state's disaster relief fund, said Tammy Dolan, a fiscal analyst for the state Office of Management and Budget.

The state's disaster relief fund gets revenue from oil and gas taxes in North Dakota and is used to help defray damage costs and to match federal funds from presidential-declared disasters. Dolan said the fund's balance would be $38.4 million after the most recent flood-fighting costs are factored. The disaster relief fund is expected to get about $22 million in oil and gas tax revenues over the next two years, she said.

President Obama last month approved Gov. Jack Dalrymple's request for a federal disaster declaration to help 16 North Dakota counties and the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation recover from flooding. The declaration makes federal funding available to help communities cover the costs for flood mitigation and flood recovery efforts.

Dalrymple submitted the request last month after teams conducted preliminary flood damage assessments in the Red River of the North Basin, the Devils Lake Basin and the Souris River Basin. Heavy snowpack, snowmelt and a lack of surface storage and other factors contributed to the spring flooding, officials said.

Sprynczynatyk, who also is director of the state Department of Emergency Services, said he's crafting a new request for Dalrymple to send to the president for the most recent damages.

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