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.”
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.