Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has made $5 million available to North Dakota in quick-release road repair funds, while President Obama’s disaster declarations for several states means they can get aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The actions come as the Great Plains have been ravaged by flooding from the Souris River in North Dakota, and the Missouri River that borders several states and runs all across Missouri.
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The Souris swamped the city of Minot, N.D., forcing 10,000 people to evacuate before many of their homes filled with water. Federal officials said crews continued this week working around the clock to protect houses and critical infrastructure.
The $5 million in quick-release funds from the Federal Highway Administration, said LaHood, “will help North Dakota address the devastation caused by the floods without any delay. It will help ensure roads and bridges are safe for those working to protect homes and put communities back together once flood waters recede.”
The funding will help states to pay for initial repairs, and the FHWA is bracing for quick funding requests from other flooded states.
The same floods battered major freight railroads. BNSF Railway said both its mainline tracks in Minot were out of service.
Obama signed disaster declarations on June 26 for Kansas and June 27 for Iowa, which have both been fighting Missouri River floods for weeks, plus high water from others when severe storms sweep through. Those signings clear the way for FEMA to provide aid to ease the impact of the disasters, plus 75 percent federal funding for certain protective measures.
BNSF said it was deploying crews and equipment to raise tracks and bridges in the Iowa-Nebraska border region where the Missouri’s flood threatened train movements. Union Pacific Railroad told customers that heavy rain in recent days had increased its concern that flooding could affect train operations between Atchison and Leavenworth, Kan., plus areas east of Kansas City, Mo.