13 March 2006

North Dakota: Not So Independent

It turns out that the people of North Dakota aren't so self-reliant. A recent e-mail circulated story touted their ability to handle a major snow storm without the government help needed in the wake of the Gulf Coast Hurricanes. The truth is more complicated:

A serious storm did indeed hit the Dakotas, Montana and Wyoming on Oct. 4, 2005. More then two feet of snow fell. Guess what happened next? The usual crew of GOVERNMENT agencies came to the rescue — led by the National Guard and the Highway Patrol. Furthermore, on Oct. 31, North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven wrote to Bush and demanded federal assistance from FEMA. Hoeven put in a "request that you declare a major disaster for the State of North Dakota as a result of a severe winter storm/snowfall, accompanied by record-breaking snowfall, rain and high winds, that occurred on October 4-6, 2005.

The state in general is quite reliant on government aid:

The state receives the highest percentage of federal farm subsidies among them all. Three out of four North Dakota farmers receive this aid. In an April 4, 2005, Washington Post story, one farmer, Owen Olson actually said, "If it wasn't for the federal government here, nobody would be farming."

One of the other main stays of the local economy is Minot Air Force Base, an installation which the U.S. Department of Defense sought to close as a cold war relic, but which the most recent base realignment and closure commission removed from a list of bases to be closed.

Hat Tip to Julie O. at They Get Letters.

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