After a torrential rainstorm last month, Grand Forks City Council members voted to keep the door open for state and federal aid.
Council members voted unanimously on Monday, Oct. 21, to extend a “declaration of emergency and natural disaster” that Mayor Mike Brown quietly signed on Sept. 26, about five days after thunderstorms dumped five-plus inches of rain on Grand Forks and East Grand Forks.
The declaration gives Brown a set of sometimes-dramatic powers: He can enact a curfew, shut off utilities or quarantine people or animals, among nearly 30 other mechanisms intended to respond to or recover from a disaster or emergency. Others are more mundane and familiar, such as closing city streets and public spaces, such as the riverside Greenway.
But perhaps the most important is the ability to apply for local, state or federal assistance. One of those windows opened when North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum declared a statewide emergency on Monday. Statewide and federal emergency declarations mean the city’s flood protection costs could be eligible for reimbursement.
Emergency declarations initially last 30 days and can be extended further by a Council vote.
Brown made a similar declaration in March, authorizing city staff to close flooded streets and allocate resources to flood response efforts.
City staff members said they’re asking the state and federal governments to cover $880,000 Grand Forks spent during the emergency last spring on cleanup after the flooding, plus maintenance on some of the city’s flood protection ponds.