DULUTH, Minn. -- Disaster assistance totals continue to grow as federal and state officials announced today that more than $2.6 million in grants and low-interest loans have been approved for some of the 1264 central and northeastern Minnesota residents who have applied for disaster assistance.
Since President Clinton's declaration July 28, federal and state officials have approved $870,528 in grants and $1,795,600 in low-interest loans. Disaster officials are also working with 138 communities and county departments eligible for public assistance for infrastructure losses. 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.
More than 1260 Minnesota residents have already called to apply for assistance. St. Louis County has the largest number of individual applicants with 769, followed by Beltrami (159), Itasca (148), Cook (108), Cass (45), and Lake (35). The deadline to call to apply for disaster assistance is September 25.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved over $741,238 in grants through its Disaster Housing Program for 564 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 $129,290 in grants has also been approved for 72 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.
Eighty homeowners and 17 business owners have been approved for SBA low-interest loans totaling $1,795,600. More than 900 loan application have been issued, but the SBA has only received 165. If you were issued a loan application, it must be completed and returned, or other forms of disaster assistance may be delayed.
Beltrami County was added to the disaster declaration September 2, and became the ninth county in central and northeast Minnesota to be eligible for federal assistance following the July 4th severe storms, wind, and flooding. The county is eligible for both individual assistance and public assistance for community infrastructure damages.
State and federal disaster officials urged renters, homeowners or business owners who suffered damages during the period of July 4 to August 2 to call to apply for disaster assistance. The number is 1-800-462-9029, or TTY 1-800-462-7585 for the hearing or speech impaired. The phone lines are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.
A temporary disaster loan assistance office opened in Bemidji yesterday at the city's Fire Department at the corner of 5th Street and America Avenue. Staffed by U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loan officers, the temporary office will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, except on Saturday and Sunday, until Thursday, September 16th. Disaster assistance information handouts will also be available at the office.
SBA low-interest disaster loans are available to eligible renters and homeowners, as well as business owners. They are the major financial source of disaster assistance. The deadline to call to apply for disaster assistance is September 25.Debris Removal Assistance Available
"We realize the damaged trees and debris pose a serious fire hazard, which no one in the affected area should ignore," Bill Powers, Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Federal Coordinating Officer said. "There are several disaster assistance programs that will provide debris removal funds for eligible permanent residents, business owners...