Bismarck, N.D. – President Joe Biden has approved Gov. Doug Burgum’s request for a presidential major disaster declaration for a severe winter ice storm and straight-line winds that caused more than $11.5 million in estimated damage over the Christmas holiday.

The disaster declaration for the Dec. 25-27 event was approved for all 13 counties requested: Barnes, Cass, Dickey, Grant, LaMoure, Logan, McIntosh, Ransom, Richland, Sargent, Steele, Stutsman and Traill. Several other counties were also impacted by the event but didn’t sustain enough damage to exceed the per-capita threshold for being included in the declaration. Burgum declared a statewide emergency Dec. 29 for infrastructure damage related to the storm.

“North Dakotans from across our state worked together to recover from this storm, from the utility crews and linemen who helped restore power to the state and local emergency management teams, road crews, first responders, health care workers and others who protected citizens’ safety,” Burgum said. “We appreciate President Biden and FEMA granting our request and making assistance available to local jurisdictions affected by this historic event, which knocked out power to over 20,000 residents in the worst ice storm since 1997. We’re grateful to the state and local agencies and utility companies that safeguarded our citizens, and to our congressional delegation for supporting this disaster declaration request.”

Freezing rain and winds in excess of 40 mph combined to destroy more than 2,000 power poles and forced the closure of major highways and other roads due to life-threatening conditions. A copy of Burgum’s letter to the president and Federal Emergency Management Agency requesting the disaster declaration can be viewed here.

The presidential disaster declaration unlocks FEMA public assistance to help pay for the costs of repairing damaged infrastructure.

The federal government also granted the governor’s request for the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to be implemented on a statewide basis to help communities pay for projects that increase resiliency and reduce costs in the long run.