Washington, DC -- Federal disaster funds were made available today to help communities in seven southeastern Minnesota counties recover from the effects of recent spring storms, according to the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
FEMA Director James Lee Witt said the aid was authorized under a major disaster declaration issued for the state by President Clinton this evening. The declaration covers damage to public property from severe storms and flooding that began May 17.
Immediately after the President's action, Witt designated the following counties eligible for federal funds to supplement the recovery needs of affected local governments: Dodge, Faribault, Fillmore, Freeborn, Houston, Mower and Winona.
Under the declaration, Witt said the federal government will pay 75 per cent of the approved costs for debris removal, emergency services related to the disaster, and restoring damaged public facilities, such as roads, bridges and utilities. Federal funds also will be available to the state on a cost-shared basis for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks.
Witt indicated that damage surveys are continuing and more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated later after the assessments are completed. He named Theodore Monette of FEMA to coordinate federal relief operations.
Monette said that procedures for requesting assistance will be explained at a series of applicant briefings at locations to be announced shortly in the affected areas.