NDDES INSIGHTS February 2020

President trump grants burgum's request for major disaster declaration for flooding from rain, snowstorm

President Donald Trump approved Gov. Doug Burgum’s request in January for a presidential major disaster declaration for the impacts of an October storm that dumped heavy rain and snow on a large swath of North Dakota and caused up to $9.7 million in damage to public infrastructure, according to preliminary assessments.

The declaration covers 16 counties: Barnes, Eddy, Foster, Grand Forks, Griggs, Kidder, LaMoure, Logan, Mountrail, Nelson, Sargent, Sheridan, Stutsman, Traill, Walsh and Wells. A copy of Burgum’s Dec. 13 request letter and supplemental materials can be viewed here.

The presidential declaration unlocks public assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help cities, counties and townships pay for the costs of repairing roads and other infrastructure damaged by the October storm and flooding.

“This declaration will provide critical relief to local governments that incurred substantial costs from the historic early October rain and snowstorm,” Burgum said. “We’re deeply grateful to President Trump and FEMA for granting our request and making assistance available as our local jurisdictions continue to recover from an unprecedented wet fall and prepare for potential spring flooding.”

Veil Voted dispatcher of the year by peers

Brent Veil, dispatcher with State Radio, was named 911 Dispatcher of the Year after being nominated for the award by his peers and selected by his supervisors. State Radio Director Dan Donlin presented Veil with the Dispatcher of the Year award Jan. 7 during the NDDES "All-Hands" quarterly meeting.

In the nomination letter recommending Veil for the honor, his co-workers wrote,"This dispatcher is an experienced dispatcher who you can rely on to help others and new-comers all the time. Easy to laugh with. Goes the extra mile in helping callers when the situation calls for it; heard many conversations while on the phone with suicidal subjects that have lasted for 30 minutes or more until help could get there. Asks a lot of really good questions to get their mind off things and to ease the caller during these conversations. Always finds a way to try and make people laugh, even during very stressful situations."

Veil has been a dispatcher with State Radio for five years.

State communicators initiate flood insurance awareness campaign

In an effort to encourage at-risk homeowners to consider purchasing a flood insurance policy for the spring, communications experts from multiple state agencies developed a marketing campaign to build awareness and provide information about the National Flood Insurance Program, or NFIP. The campaign kicked off on last month, coinciding with Flood Awareness Week, which Gov. Doug Burgum proclaimed Jan. 27-31.

Through a collaboration among the Governor’s Office, NDDES, the North Dakota Department of Health and the State Water Commission, three video spots were developed and marketed on television, radio, Facebook and YouTube to reach the broadest audience possible. The first of the three videos featured Gov. Burgum, who also penned an editorial for newspapers statewide along with Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread, State Engineer Garland Erbele and Homeland Security Director Cody Schulz.

The subsequent video spots featured rural Bismarck resident Dustin Zaun, who had flood insurance during the 2011 Missouri River flood, and Shaun Sipma, a Minot resident and current mayor, who did not have flood insurance during the 2011 event on the Souris River. You can view these testimonials here:

The flood insurance campaign was initiated given the state’s saturated soils from an unusual amount of fall precipitation heading into freeze-up this winter, increasing the potential for flooding this spring.

mitigation matters: north dakota, canadian officials study souris basin dam operations

The 2011 statewide flood will long be remembered for its catastrophic impacts, most memorably in the Mouse/Souris River Basin where flooding resulted in the:

  • Evacuation of more than 12,000 North Dakotans;
  • Inundation of 4,100 Minot area homes and businesses; and
  • Record-breaking levels at such gauging points as the Minot Broadway Bridge, where floodwaters crested at 1,561.72 feet (NAVD88), surpassing the previous record of 1,558 feet (NAVD88) set in 1881.

North Dakota water experts, including members of the State Hazard Mitigation Team (SHMT) and their Canadian counterparts, are working collaboratively to avoid future occurrences of widespread flooding along the nearly 435-mile-long Mouse/Souris River that originates in Saskatchewan, passes through North Dakota and crosses into Manitoba before joining the Assiniboine River.

The International Souris River Study Board, created by the International Joint Commission, has been assigned the responsibility to review and propose improvements to the operating plan for Rafferty, Boundary, Grant Devine and Lake Darling Reservoirs under the Canada-United States International Agreement for water supply and flood control in the Mouse/Souris River Basin.

The International Souris River Study Board created a Resource and Agency Advisory Group (RAAG) to understand how the modification of the operating plan may affect use of the river. RAAG serves as a conduit for communication with stakeholders regarding the study process; identifies potential conflicts with policies or interests; suggests ideas or approaches to improve the results of the study; and ensures all business needs and risks of interest to the study are accounted for and appreciated.

Laura Ackerman, SHMT Technical Advisory Committee member and Investigations Section Chief for the N.D. State Water Commission (SWC), co-leads the Resource and Agency Advisory Group (RAAG) with her Canadian co-chair and Souris Basin expert, Russell Boals.

“The State Water Commission is hoping to find enhanced benefits and to equitably share the impacts between the two countries,” Ackerman said. “The study is leading to a better understanding of both countries’ needs and concerns.”

RAAG members have been making considerable progress during the past 19 months analyzing water supply, flood control, recreational, cultural and environmental data, including information contained in the State of North Dakota Enhanced Mitigation Mission Area Operations Plan (MAOP). NDDES has been supporting the effort along with SHMT partners representing the SWC, N.D. Departments of Health, Transportation, Agriculture, Game and Fish, Office of the State Engineer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Geological Survey. City of Minot and Souris River Joint Board officials have been lending their expertise along with Canadian representatives of the City of Estevan, Sask Power, Saskatchewan Water Security Agency, Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Manitoba Infrastructure, Saskatchewan Governments Relations, Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment, Environment Climate Change Canada, Manitoba Municipal Relations, and Agriculture and Agri-food Canada.

“The RAAG process has shown that jurisdictional water and related natural resources management challenges can be effectively discussed in the context of the large transboundary interests,” Boals said. “The engagement process implemented by the study board will serve the Souris basin well into the future, given the need for wise and sustainable water resource utilization if development and climate challenges are to be effectively addressed.”

The International Souris River Study Board plans to make its final recommendations later this year.

Kathleen Donahue, NDDES deputy planning chief, visits with Laura Ackerman, Investigations Section chief for the N.D. State Water Commission, about how the International Souris River Study Board's Resource and Agency Advisory Group is working on modifications to the Souris River Basin dam operations plan. Right, Lake Darling Dam, which is located about 30 miles northwest of Minot, North Dakota, and is used for downstream flood control on the Mouse/Souris River.

NDDES Facilitates CAD Working Group for Stakeholder input

A computer-aided dispatch (CAD) workgroup, assembled by NDDES, this month received demonstrations from several CAD vendors to explore possibilities for upgrading or acquiring a new system for State Radio’s end-users. The group includes a cross-section of representatives from multiple agencies, including N.D. Highway Patrol, N.D. Game and Fish and state public safety answering point managers, as well as the 25 counties for which State Radio provides dispatch.

The demonstrations provided information about five different CAD products. Those presentations will aid State Radio in making a decision this spring about future plans for its CAD system.

CAD provides dispatched agencies with in-car, real-time event information, mapping and teletype queries. It also assists dispatchers in State Radio with event/dispatch tracking and officer awareness and agency tracking.

The State Radio Communications System has nearly 1,500 users representing 287 local, state and federal agencies.

NOrth Dakota Continues planning for potential spring flood response

Representatives from multiple state agencies last week met at the State Emergency Operations Center in Bismarck, North Dakota, to continue planning for potential 2020 flood response operations. The group discussed current weather conditions and indicators that may signal moderate to major flooding for several areas throughout North Dakota. To collaborate on the whole-of-government approach to planning, the following agencies attended: N.D. Dept of Emergency Services; N.D. Highway Patrol; N.D. Department of Transportation; U.S. National Weather Service, Bismarck; U.S. National Weather Service, Grand Forks; the State Climatologist; North Dakota Wing, Civil Air Patrol; N.D. National Guard; N.D. Department of Agriculture; N.D. Department of Human Services; tate Water Commission and Office of the State Engineer; N.D. Department of Environmental Quality; NDSU Extension; N.D. Information Technology Department and representatives from Gov. Doug Burgum's Office. Also, the following experts gave insightful presentations from their respective agencies regarding potential 2020 spring flooding: Dr. Adnan Akyuz, NDSU Department of Soil Science; Amanda Lee and Corey King, National Weather Service; and Laura Ackerman, State Water Commission.