If you've watched the news lately, you've seen footage of the incredible flood damage throughout North Dakota. Unprecedented levels of snow melt and heavy spring rains have affected at least 43 of 53 counties and tens of thousands of people throughout the state as the Souris River, which curls from Canada through north central North Dakota back into Canada, has reached levels never witnessed before and inundated thousands of homes and businesses.
In an effort to help North Dakota recover, DOT’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced this week that it will send $5 million in quick release emergency dollars to the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) to immediately begin restoring highways damaged by recent flooding. It’s all part of the Obama Administration’s overall effort to help North Dakotans recover from this disaster.
In addition to the loss of life and destruction of homes, natural disasters often cause tremendous damage to roads and bridges, inhibiting recovery efforts and making travel in ravaged regions all the more difficult.
One of the most important steps we can take after a disaster is to make the roads safe again, so that people can go about the business of recovering and get back to their daily routines. But the considerable job of restoring the roads and bridges that were destroyed can leave a huge financial burden on the states affected by these tragedies.
The quick release money DOT is providing to North Dakota will help the state address the devastation caused by the floods without any delay and alleviate the financial burden of the disaster. It will also help ensure roads and bridges are safe for emergency personnel as they help put communities back together once flood waters recede.
As North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple said, “we know that we have a tremendous recovery effort coming.”
And DOT is committed to working hard to support North Dakota through the recovery process. As FHWA Administrator Victor Mendez said, “the people of North Dakota should continue their battle against flood damage with the knowledge that today’s funds represent only the beginning of the agency’s commitment to restoring transportation throughout the state.”
Crews continue to work around-the-clock to protect homes and critical infrastructure, and FHWA’s emergency relief funds will be used to reimburse the state and counties for the cost of repairs.
The people of North Dakota have a lot of work ahead of them, but they have my full commitment that DOT will continue to do all we can to help them recover from this tragedy.