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nddes insights August 2020

Burgum requests presidential major disaster declaration for severe summer storm damage

Gov. Doug Burgum requested a presidential major disaster declaration Aug. 31 for a severe summer storm that caused flash flooding in several counties and resulted in more than $5 million in damage to roads and other infrastructure.

In a letter directed to President Donald Trump through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Burgum requested that a major disaster be declared for six counties: Benson, Grand Forks, McKenzie, Mountrail, Nelson and Wells.

The June 29-July 1 storm destroyed infrastructure and damaged homes with high winds, hail and 4 to 8 inches of rain in some areas. Burgum noted that many of the counties were also pummeled by previous disasters that produced catastrophic flooding during the last two years.

“In a few short hours, this impactful storm swamped fields and pastures, washed out roads, damaged bridges and railroad tracks, flooded basements, destroyed electrical equipment and knocked out power to thousands of North Dakotans,” Burgum said. “We thank the administration for considering our request for assistance to help communities recover from this storm, the latest in our recent string of natural disasters.”

Mitigation matters: N.D. Department of Emergency Services Announces Mitigation Grant Funding Availability

The "Wizard of Oz" artwork on this prefabricated storm shelter is located at Harmon Lake in Morton County. Some counties have installed similar structures in recreational areas using grants through FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Assistance Programs. For more information about hazard mitigation, click here.

NDDES now is taking applications for two national competitive Hazard Mitigation Assistance grant programs: Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) and Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC). BRIC formerly was known as the Pre-Disaster Mitigation grant program. By working with FEMA, which has made available $660 million in funding nationwide, the agency can assist with the grant application process and maximize North Dakota communities' resiliency to natural disasters.

The grant programs are available to assist state, local, tribal and territorial governments in strengthening the nation’s ability to reduce the potential cost of natural disasters to communities and their citizens, as well as protecting life and property from future disaster damages.

Eligible applicants for the grant program funding can begin the application process through NDDES to obtain a 75 percent federal cost share grant for eligible projects and activities. Those eligible applicants include state, local, tribal and territorial governments that currently have, or have participated in, the creation of a FEMA-approved Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan (MHMP). State agencies that fall under the State of North Dakota’s Enhanced Mitigation Mission Area Operations Plan are eligible to apply for funding, as well.

FEMA approves North Dakota’s participation in Lost Wages Assistance program to aid unemployed workers

Gov. Doug Burgum expressed his gratitude Sept. 1 after the Federal Emergency Management Agency approved North Dakota’s participation in the Lost Wages Assistance program created by President Donald Trump to ease the economic burden for those who have lost their employment because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Grant funding from FEMA will allow Job Service North Dakota to provide an additional $300 per week on top of claimants’ regular weekly unemployment benefit if they are unemployed due to COVID-19. The payments will be made retroactively to claimants who were eligible during the three weeks ending Aug. 1, 8 and 15.

“We appreciate FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor and the Trump administration approving North Dakota’s participation in this program, which will provide immediate relief to North Dakotans whose livelihoods were directly impacted by this global pandemic,” Burgum said.

On Aug. 8, President Donald Trump authorized FEMA to spend up to $44 billion from its Disaster Relief Fund to provide supplemental unemployment benefits through the Lost Wages Assistance program. Job Service North Dakota submitted the state’s application to FEMA last week to participate in the program.

Job Service anticipates distributing the Lost Wages Assistance payments by mid-September.

The Lost Wages Assistance program limits eligibility only to those claimants who are unemployed specifically due to the pandemic and whose weekly benefit amount is $100 or more. Based on those limitations and the amount of funding available nationwide, Job Service estimates that approximately 17,600 claimants in North Dakota – about 41% of the current active claimant base – will receive the $300 benefit for three weeks. Total payments are estimated to be $14.7 million.

To be eligible for Lost Wages Assistance, workers must self-certify that they were unemployed or partially unemployed due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the initial unemployment insurance claims process or their required weekly recertifications. North Dakota also reinstated its work registration and search requirements at the end of July for those seeking unemployment, after having suspended them in March when the pandemic hit North Dakota.

Burgum, Stahl launch “Mask Up ND” campaign

Dr. Andrew Stahl, North Dakota’s former interim state health officer, joined Gov. Burgum at a news conference Aug. 10 to help announce the “Mask Up ND” public awareness campaign.

North Dakotans are encouraged to use the hashtag #MaskUpND as they share photos and selfies of individuals being safe and using masks, and to add a Facebook frame to their profile photo. The North Dakota Department of Health has created a webpage where members of the public can download images to share on social media platforms. The webpage also provides links to useful information, resources and articles about the importance of wearing masks in public during the pandemic.

“In North Dakota, we’re known as a state that takes care of each other. Masks are another way for us to show we care for others and our community. My mask protects you and your mask protects me,” Burgum said.
“Masks are a critical tool in the fight against COVID-19. It’s one of the most powerful tools that we have to help slow and stop the spread of the virus,” Stahl said.

Stahl encouraged North Dakotans to make sure they wear their mask correctly:

  • Wash your hands before putting on your mask.
  • Put it over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin.
  • Try to fit it snugly against the sides of your face.
  • Make sure you can breathe easily.

In addition, individuals should continue to stay home when sick, keep 6 feet of distance, wash hands frequently and sanitize frequently touched surfaces, Stahl noted.

The "Mask Up ND" web page features a number of resources that can be used by businesses, schools and members of the public, including a printable sign that can be featured in shared social photos to show who you wear your mask for.

NDDES thanks long-time VOAD partner for years of service

NDDES had the opportunity to wish one of its important partners farewell Aug. 20 on her retirement. Justin Messner, Recovery Section chief, presented a plaque to Shirley Dykshoorn, president of humanitarian and senior services with Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota. In a letter thanking her for her years of collaboration with NDDES and service to the citizens of North Dakota, Cody Schulz, North Dakota Homeland Security director, wrote "The insights you shared with my staff and those of other organizations were instrumental in building a whole of community approach to response and recovery in North Dakota. A tireless advocate for the most vulnerable of North Dakota, your efforts and guidance helped disaster-impacted citizens survive what was often the worst days of their lives. You offered hope when it was most needed."

North Dakota announces launch of Care19 Alert app to help reduce spread of COVID-19 as students return

Gov. Burgum announced the launch of the new Care19 Alert smartphone app Aug. 13, which is designed to notify users of possible COVID-19 exposure while protecting their privacy with technology developed by Apple and Google.

“Care19 Alert is a powerful tool in the fight against COVID-19 and another example of how we’re embracing technology and innovation to save lives and livelihoods,” Burgum said. “North Dakota was the first state to launch a contact tracing app, and now we’re the first state to connect an exposure notification system with the National Key Server, which will allow Care19 Alert to work with similar apps in other states. This makes Care19 Alert a vital resource in keeping schools and businesses open while protecting personal privacy.”

North Dakota-based ProudCrowd LLC developed Care19 Alert in partnership with the North Dakota Department of Health using federal funding. The free app is available to download through the App Store and the Google Play Store. Care19 Alert is the only app in North Dakota allowed to use the exposure notification system (ENS) application programming interface (API) jointly created by Apple and Google.