HARWOOD, N.D. (AP) -- Gov. Ed Schafer signed a federal disaster request Monday while visiting a flooded farm, saying he wanted to ''get the ball rolling'' even while the damage estimates rise.
Schafer, who toured some of the worst hit areas of the Fargo and the Red River Valley, signed the formal request while visiting the farm of Keith Monson near Harwood.
Much of Monson's soybean and wheat fields remain under several inches of water. He said he expects to lose much of his crop this year and fears disaster aid for farmers won't be enough help.
''It's tough to even look at next year right now,'' Monson said at a news conference outside his farmhouse, one of the only areas of his farm not still under water. ''You can giggle about the carp swimming up your sidewalk. ... But eventually you have to stop laughing.''
Schafer's request for a disaster declaration includes the Turtle Mountain and Spirit Lake Indian reservations and 18 counties -- Benson, Bottineau, Cass, Eddy, Foster, Grand Forks, Griggs, Kidder, McHenry, McLean, Nelson, Pierce, Ramsey, Ransom, Sheridan, Traill, Walsh and Wells.
The request will be submitted to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and forwarded to President Clinton.
In it, Schafer said preliminary estimates put the extent of damage at more than $47 million. However, he said it is clear the final tally will be far greater than that. Fargo officials have estimated losses in that city alone will top $100 million.
''We can add more damages later,'' Schafer said. ''The key is to get the request in early and get the ball rolling.''
Schafer said he is particularly worried about how farmers will cope with the latest disaster.
Early estimates put the number of farms affected by the heavy rains at more than 3,000. Schafer said some farms have suffered crop losses of 55 percent. While crop insurance will cover some of the damage, Schafer said state and federal authorities need to work together to find alternative sources of aid for farmers.
''I have serious concerns about the effects of the disaster on farmers who are already suffering from low prices and several years of flooding,'' he said. Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., said Monday that a House-Senate conference committee on appropriations already is working on proposals.
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