U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced he is making $5 million in quick release emergency funds available to the North Dakota Department of Transportation to immediately begin restoring federal-aid highways damaged by flooding.

The town of Minot was just the latest in relentless flood events throughout the state caused by snow melt and very heavy spring rains of unprecedented magnitude affecting at least 43 of the 53 counties throughout the state. In Minot, at least 10,000 people were evacuated as water began spilling over the town's emergency levees. The Souris River, which curls from Canada through north central North Dakota back into Canada, reached levels never witnessed before and inundated thousands of homes and businesses. Crews continue to work around-the-clock to protect homes and critical infrastructure.

Quick release funds may be used for other areas affected by runoff this year, including from Devils Lake, the Missouri River, James River and the Sheyenne River, and for the Spirit Lake, Forth Berthold and Turtle Mountain Reservations.

"The people of North Dakota should continue their battle against flood damage with the knowledge that today's funds represent only the beginning of the agency's commitment to restoring transportation throughout the state," Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez said.

Quick release emergency funds provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) will be used to reimburse the state and counties for the cost of repairs.

FHWA's emergency relief program provides funds for the repair or reconstruction of roads and bridges damaged by natural disasters or catastrophic events.

Administrator Mendez added that the program is bracing for additional funding requests from states across the country this year that have been battered by extreme weather events.