DULUTH, Minn. -- More than $2 million in grants and low-interest loans have been approved for some of the 1024 residents who have applied for disaster assistance following last month's severe storms, wind, and flooding in Northeastern Minnesota.
St. Louis County has the largest number of individual applicants with 724, followed by Itasca (139), Cook (99), Lake (33) and Cass (29). State and federal disaster officials urge residents and business owners in these counties to apply for assistance if they sustained damages or losses from the severe storms, which hit the area between July 4 to August 2.
Individuals have less than a month to apply for assistance. The deadline is September 25.
The application process begins with just one toll-free phone call that takes about 15 to 20 minutes. The number is 1-800-462-9029, or TTY 1-800-462-7585 for the hearing or speech impaired. Application specialists are available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Since President Clinton's declaration on July 28, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved over $650,000 in grants through its Disaster Housing Program for 506 applicants. This initial assistance program covers temporary rental assistance or essential home repairs to make a residence livable until more extensive repair or reconstruction can be completed.
More than $50,000 has also been approved for 22 applicants through the Individual and Family Grant (IFG) Program. Administered by the Minnesota Division of Emergency Management (DEM), the IFG program is designed to meet serious disaster-related needs and necessary expenses not covered by insurance or other disaster assistance programs. FEMA provides 75 percent of the funding and the State covers the remaining 25 percent.
Sixty-one homeowners and 10 business owners have been approved for low-interest loans totaling $1,446,500 from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Low-interest disaster loans, which are currently under four percent, are the major source of financial assistance to replace loss and damaged property or to make long-term repairs for homeowners, renters, and business owners.
Applicants may also be eligible for funds to cover debris removal through the SBA low-interest disaster loan program. Typically, the SBA will look at debris removal within a one-acre area around the structure. Physical damage to the home or business is not required to be eligible for these loan funds. Disaster loans for this specific purpose are limited to $200,000 for a homeowner and $1.5 million for a business owner. Seasonal or second homes are not eligible.
For individuals in Cook, Itasca and St. Louis counties, the filing period for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) ends on September 3. The DUA program provides temporary income assistance to both workers and self-employed individuals whose work has been lost or interrupted as a direct result of the high winds and severe storms.
In addition to the individual assistance for homeowners, renters, and business owners, 136 communities and county agencies in the eight declared counties have applied for public assistance (infrastructure). The program is designed to help cover damage costs for debris removal, emergency services, and repairing or replacing damaged public facilities, such as roads, bridges, utilities, and schools. Local officials have attended Applicant's Briefings and work has already begun on some community claims.
The FEMA Helpline is available to update personal information, check on the status of an application or answer questions about disaster assistance. The Helpline number is 1-800-525-0321, or TTY 1-800-660-8005 for the hearing or speech impaired. Application specialists are available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.