Governor declares 3 counties a disaster area after July storms


Gov. Doug Burgum on Thursday, Aug. 17 signed an executive order declaring three western North Dakota counties a severe storm disaster area, according to a press release from Burgum’s office issued the same day.

By Cole Benz

The release also said that the governor has asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for more time to request a major disaster declaration.

The disaster area that Burgum outlined includes Bowman, Dunn, and Slope counties.

This in response to the July 20 and 21 thunderstorms previously reported by The Pioneer. The storm brought downburst gusts with wind speeds measured more than 70 mph in some areas.

Property about 10 miles north of both Bowman and Scranton appeared to suffer the most damage in Bowman County, that included crushed grain bins and overturned camper trailers.

“The reports that we’ve received suggest that a lot of that damage, the worst of it, is kind of in that Scranton region, [and] that general area just north of Bowman,” National Weather Service (NWS) Meteorologist Chauncy Schultz said during a phone interview last month. “That seems to be the heart of the damage from there over towards Scranton.”

Among those in Scranton that suffered harsh effects of the storm was the Dilse family farm just outside of Scranton.

According to Stuart Dilse, damage to property on his farm was tens of thousands of dollars. Grain bins just south of the family house suffered the most severe damage. The downburst wind gusts crushed the empty bins like a soda can, and nearly ripped them off their cement foundations. A closer look show that the wind pulled the bolts and steal up off the concrete a few inches.

Substantial damage to member-owned rural electric cooperatives was also reported as a result of the intense weather.

The storm, compounded with the ongoing drought this year, has caused a multitude of problems as noted in the press release from the governor’s office. And by signing this executive order, state officials will be directed to coordinate with agencies at the federal level to help make recovery programs available to those effected by the extreme weather.

Along with the executive order, Burgum sent a letter to Nancy Dragani, FEMA Acting Regional Administrator FEMA, for an extension of Aug. 28 to submit the request for a major disaster declaration because, as the release notes, much of the preliminary damage assessments were targeted for a completion date of Aug. 23.

Burgum also made a request for a presidential major disaster declaration in regards to the drought crisis on Aug. 8. That request is still pending.

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