Burgum declares flood emergency, looks at other measures

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum on Monday declared a statewide flood emergency and said officials were looking at other measures to help residents affected by heavy rains and a blizzard that dumped record amounts of snow in some places, especially farmers.

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Burgum's order cleared the way for the state to request federal funding and other help. The cities of Grand Forks, Jamestown, LaMoure and Valley City had already requested emergency aid, as had the counties of Barnes, Cavalier, Grand Forks, LaMoure, Stutsman, Traill, Walsh and Wells.

Burgum and Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring toured the state Monday to talk with rural and urban residents about the potentially devastating effects of the unusually wet weather and to share information about the state's response. Burgum said that could include requests for a USDA secretarial disaster designation and a presidential disaster declaration.

In the meantime, the governor said there's "a whole team of people across the state" who are ready to respond to flooding issues, most of which will impact farmers already stung by a late planting season and low prices.

"There's an economic hardship that we're facing here relative to this fall's harvest that is likely unprecedented," Burgum said.

The National Weather Service said wet weather that began in North Dakota Sunday could produce up to an inch of rain in some areas by the time the system moves out on early Tuesday. Forecasters say the ongoing flooding is at record levels for many locations for this time of year. Overland flooding is also occurring from snowmelt in areas that were pummeled by a blizzard that dropped as much as 30 inches of snow, setting October records.

The weather service said several roads along and near the Red River, especially around the Grand Forks area, remain closed. Emergency managers have reported that rural roads softened by wet conditions have become more susceptible to washouts.