North Dakota County Happy for ‘Godsend’ Disaster Declaration

Stutsman County, N.D., and the townships and cities within the county had submitted an estimate of $4.2 million in damage to roads and other public infrastructure caused by an October blizzard and floods that followed.

by Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun, N.D. / January 22, 2020

(TNS) — The Stutsman County Commission learned the county is part of a newly declared Presidential Disaster Declaration just before it convened for its regular meeting Tuesday.

"Just heard about it," said Mark Klose, chairman of the commission. "Happy as heck, it is a godsend for the townships and the county."

Stutsman County and the townships and cities within the county had submitted an estimate of $4.2 million in damage to roads and other public infrastructure caused by an October blizzard and flooding events that followed. Of that $4.2 million, $3.2 million was reported to township roads, according to Jerry Bergquist, Stutsman County emergency manager and 911 coordinator.

Bergquist said very few details had been released concerning how the Presidential Disaster Declaration would work as part of the initial announcement.

"It is extremely good news," he said. "We don't know what the rules will be. We know it only applies to government-owned infrastructure but how and when the work will be done is not known. It is not like we go out and fix roads now."

The declaration announcement also does not include information on the reimbursement rates. Bergquist said in previous declarations, the federal government had covered 75% of costs with the state of North Dakota paying 10% and local governments covering 15%.

"Right now, we have zero detail," Bergquist said. "That will change over the next several days."

During the Stutsman County Commission meeting, commissioners approved a bridge inspection and load rating service agreement with the North Dakota Department of Transportation.

Previously, the NDDOT performed all bridge inspections but has now made local governments responsible for the inspections. The service agreement allows Stutsman County to contract through the state to have the inspections done by contractors.

The County Commission also approved the reappraisal of eight parcels of land owned by the county and for sale. The parcels were acquired by the county when taxes were not paid on the parcels. The county had received an offer on one parcel but it was below the current sale price listed.

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