Hoeven visits ranchers impacted by storms
MAX — In the aftermath of the historic blizzard of April 12-14, ranchers and rural communities are digging themselves out and assessing the damage. Sen. John Hoeven was on hand in Max on Friday, with some in the area only just getting power back after the freezing rains last weekend. He visited the Jacobson Family Ranch, northwest of Max, and attended a town hall at the Max Community Center to answer questions and listen to concerns from ranchers and farmers impacted by the severe weather.
Paul Jacobson runs his cattle operation west of Max with his son Jake and his wife Kasey, and they worked overtime in the lead up to the blizzard to be as ready as possible.
“We prepared a few days ahead of time getting our barns and all that stuff ready. We had to keep putting feed in front of them. They wasted a bunch of it but at least we were able to keep the cows full.” Paul Jacobson said as he toured his pasture with the senator. “To get back to the house it took us 35 minutes just to go a quarter of a mile.”
The Jacobson Ranch was without power for six days after the freezing rains caused major power outages in the region, but made do with generators as they finished up their spring calving.
“We started getting ready for this blizzard in 1997 after the April blast we had. We put up nine barns since then, and we had three generators running to keep the wells going. I like to think because of that prep time we didn’t have any big losses.” Paul Jacobson said. “We gotta take our hats off to those generators. When they gotta go to work they earn their money.”
Paul Jacobson said they didn’t lose any calves directly to the weather, and made it through the blizzard with minimal losses. Other ranchers in the area were not as fortunate, and a crowd gathered in the Max Community Center that afternoon as Hoeven took questions and shared how recent legislation could help them navigate through the curveballs thrown at them by Mother Nature.
At the town hall Hoeven highlighted the Livestock Indemnity Program, which aids in covering livestock losses by paying 75 percent of the fair market value. While there was some confusion surrounding exactly how much time the ranchers had to determine their losses and file for aid, the senator’s office urged those present to submit paperwork at most 30 days after the storm.
The Emergency Livestock Relief Program was also discussed, which is a fund of $750 million to aid livestock producers.
“ELRP is supposed to cover up to 60 percent of transportation costs and costs for feed. But your costs just went up in the short term due to recent events.” Hoeven acknowledged, as extra fuel was needed to run generators during the power outages.
Concerns over price reporting were brought up by those in attendance, with the senator touting the need for more regional packers in the region to combat the vertical integration of the “Big Four” meat packing operations.
The senator took other questions related to the impacts of inflation on rising feed and fuel costs on ranchers and truckers transporting livestock to market, costs exacerbated further by the spring storms.
“The two biggest industries in North Dakota are ag and energy. No one does either one better than North Dakota. In the energy world we need to produce more oil and gas. That’s the only way you bring that fuel price down and that fertilizer price.” Hoeven concluded.
Civil Air Patrol assists with storm recovery operations
BISMARCK — Lending an “eye in the sky” over areas encased in heavy snow in northwestern North Dakota, members of the North Dakota Wing, Civil Air Patrol (CAP) have been capturing aerial imagery to support power restoration operations.
Volunteers began flying missions Wednesday after being requested through the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services to assist with recovery from the weekend’s spring blizzard, which toppled power lines throughout the area leaving homes without electricity.
Flying missions over downed power lines and electric infrastructure locations, a pilot and airborne photographer from CAP’s Magic City Composite Squadron in Minot have been providing beneficial reconnaissance for Burke-Divide Rural Electric Cooperative (REC) as linemen restore power to homes in Divide County. After assessing the scope of damage, the Burke-Divide REC has been able to determine the labor and supply requirements for restoration while road crews work to provide them access to damaged poles.
“Our Department of Emergency Services communicates with our local and tribal emergency managers on a routine basis. Over the past month, during two consecutive weekends with spring storms, we have reached out at the state level to offer support and an array of resources to assist wherever we can,” said Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann, Emergency Services director. “Using their Cessna 182 aircraft operated by unpaid volunteers, the Civil Air Patrol provides a valuable and economical resource. We want to thank those crews for all they do for our communities.”
North Dakota’s CAP has long supported disaster response and recovery operations, including during the aftermath of winter storms, floods and wildfires. While CAP pilots have not been tasked to fly missions in eastern North Dakota for potential flood operations this week, they are on stand-by to assist if needed.
In April 2021, CAP pilots flew over scorched areas surrounding Medora after a wildfire burned thousands of acres and prompted an evacuation there. Using thermal imaging, CAP was able to locate hot spots that were not visible from the ground to assist fire crews with decision-making and resource requirements to fully suppress the blaze.
“Civil Air Patrol has a proud history of serving North Dakotans during times of need.” said Lt. Col. Sean Johnson, chief of staff for Missions for the North Dakota Wing, “Our volunteers are the key to our success. My gratitude goes out to them for once again taking time away from family and work to give selflessly of their talents and provide our partners the imagery-based situational awareness they needed to make key response decisions.”