Updated 4:15 p.m. BISMARCK—The cost of flooding across North Dakota this year is expected to reach $1 billion, the state’s adjutant general said Tuesday.
The amount includes more than $400 million in government services and damage, Maj. Gen David Sprynczynatyk told state legislators at a meeting in the Capitol.
Expenses include nearly $20 million in National Guard costs, about $10 million in additional expenses through the Department of Transportation and $13 million in debris removal, he said.
Public infrastructure costs are expected to reach $250 million for damaged roads, bridges, schools, water treatment facilities and sewers. About $150 million of that is expected to be for Minot and Ward County, Sprynczynatyk said.
The total also includes $60 million in individual assistance and $50 million in hazard mitigation to prevent or minimize future flood damage.
How the bill is divided among the federal, state and local governments depends on the expense category.
However, about $350 million will end up being federal expense, with the balance a combination of state and local expense, Sprynczynatyk said.
The state is prepared to handle the situation through a disaster relief fund established by the Legislature, he said. Due to the magnitude of the costs, he expects to use all of the money appropriated.
However, the state can then borrow money from the Bank of North Dakota and go back to the Legislature for a deficiency appropriation, Sprynczynatyk said.
In addition, more than 4,600 homes in Ward, Burleigh and Morton counties have structure damage, which could reach $600 million to $700 million of individual expense, Sprynczynatyk said.
“At this point in time, I think this will become at least a billion-dollar flood event for the people of North Dakota, considering everything that took place earlier this spring and through the last few months,” he said.
Sprynczynatyk also told legislators the 211 hot line has received more than 2,100 flood-related calls. The 211 service is available in North Dakota and in Clay County in Minnesota. It provides information about health and human services, confidential listening and referrals.
“What we’re seeing now is a great number of suicide issues and concerns,” Sprynczynatyk said. “My personal concern is that, as people begin to go back into their homes and see the extent of the damage and realize the impact … the number of calls is going to go up dramatically.
Legislators on the Water-Related Topics Overview Committee heard updates from across the state on Tuesday. Topics included Devils Lake and Ramsey County, Nelson County, Minot and Ward County, and Bismarck and Burleigh County water issues.
One after another, city and county officials stepped up to tell legislators about the challenges of floodwaters, from evacuated residents to damaged homes to lost livelihoods.
Minot officials described seeing homes covered in black mold up to the ceilings, sheetrock falling off and floors torn up. More than 4,000 homes were impacted in the record-setting flood that resulted in more than 11,000 residents evacuating from the state’s fourth-largest city.
“We’re going to need help in Minot,” said Dean Frantsvog, president of the Minot City Council. “As much as we’d love to say we’re going to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps and things like that, we’re going to need help.”
The expense of the flood is going to be “astronomical,” he said. The city is working with the federal government and doing what it can to receive disaster funding.
However, the state of the national economy is different from the 1990s when Grand Forks received support after its flood, he said.
“We are going to come forward and hopefully the state can help the citizens of Minot out because if there was ever a time, it’s now,” he said.
Committee Chairman Sen. Tom Fischer, R-Fargo, said the goal of Tuesday’s meeting was to take an inventory of where the state is at, so legislators can move forward and determine how to address the issues.
Fischer wants the committee to meet at least three more times before October. He said he wants to have a report to present to all lawmakers during the November special session.