Washington, DC -- The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today that President Bush has declared a major disaster for Minnesota, opening the way for the use of federal funds to help meet the recovery needs of people and communities victimized by spring floods and other turbulent weather.
FEMA Director Joe M. Allbaugh said the President's action came after the agency reported that in addition to substantial infrastructure losses, more than 600 homes were damaged and another 6,905 dwellings affected to some degree. The declaration covers damage to private and public property from severe storms, tornadoes and flooding that struck the state beginning March 23.
After the declaration, Allbaugh designated the following jurisdictions eligible for aid to stricken residents and business owners: the counties of Benton, Chippewa, Freeborn, Goodhue, Houston, St. Louis, Stevens, Wabasha, Washington, Winona and Yellow Medicine, and the Tribal governments of Prairie Island and Upper Sioux.
The assistance, to be coordinated by FEMA, can include grants to help pay for temporary housing, emergency home repairs and other serious disaster--related expenses. Low--interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration also will be available to cover residential and business losses not fully compensated by insurance.
Allbaugh said federal funds also will be provided for the state and affected local governments to pay 75 percent of the eligible cost for debris removal, emergency services related to the disaster, and repairing or replacing damaged public facilities, such as roads, bridges and utilities.
In addition to the Tribal governments of Prairie Island and Upper Sioux, the counties eligible for this assistance include Big Stone, Carver, Chippewa, Chisago, Clay, Dakota, Freeborn, Goodhue, Grant, Houston, Lac qui Parle, McLeod, Meeker, Morrison, Norman, Polk, Ramsey, Red Lake, Redwood, Renville, St. Louis, Stevens, Swift, Todd, Traverse, Wabasha, Washington, Wilkin, Winona and Yellow Medicine.
The declaration also makes cost--shared funding available to the state for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks.
Allbaugh indicated that damage surveys are continuing and additional counties may be designated for aid later based on the results of the assessments. He named James L. Roche of FEMA to coordinate the federal relief effort.
Roche said those who sustained losses in the jurisdictions designated for aid to stricken residents and business owners can begin the disaster application process by calling 1--800--462--9029, or 1--800--462--7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll--free telephone numbers will be available starting Thursday, May 17, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, until further notice.