St Paul, MN -- Disaster assistance for McLeod and Pope Counties has been expanded to include aid for affected homeowners, renters and businesses and Federal disaster funds have been made available for Beltrami, Dodge, Faribault and Isanti Counties to help local governments rebuild public property damaged by the recent tornadoes, straight--line winds and severe storms in Minnesota, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today.
FEMA Director Joe M. Allbaugh said the additional assistance was approved based on a review of damage data gathered by federal and state disaster recovery officials. In the original major disaster declaration issued on May 16 by President Bush, Mcleod and Pope Counties were previously designated for public assistance, and Beltrami County was eligible for individual assistance.
"We remain committed to delivering assistance wherever it's needed and to making sure that every qualified individual and family receives the help they need to get back on the road to recovery," Allbaugh said.
Residents and business owners who suffered damages in McLeod and Pope Counties may apply for assistance immediately by calling the toll--free registration number, 1--800--462--9029, between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Those with a speech or hearing impairment may call a special TTY number at 1--800--462--7585.
Allbaugh said calling these numbers is the only way to apply for a wide range of state and federal disaster assistance programs that can include funding for temporary housing, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) low--interest loans for individuals and businesses to repair or replace damaged property, disaster unemployment assistance, and grants for serious needs and necessary expenses not met by other programs.
"Don't hesitate to apply for the assistance you may need," FEMA federal coordinating officer Jim Roche, said. "The federal government has allocated sufficient funds for grants for all those in the affected areas who have eligible losses. Call now. Don't wait for insurance settlements before applying."
This announcement makes a total of 65 Minnesota counties eligible to receive some type of federal--state disaster assistance. So far, 2204 have applied and already nearly $5.5 million dollars in disaster assistance grants and low--interest loans have been approved for Minnesota disaster victims.
Affected local governments in Beltrami, Dodge, Faribault and Isanti Counties are eligible to apply for federal funds to pay 75 percent of the approved cost for debris removal, emergency services related to the disaster, and repairing or replacing damaged public facilities, such as roads, buildings and utilities. The funds were authorized under the major disaster declaration and made available through FEMA's public assistance program for state and local governments.
"Ensuring that vital community services are restored as quickly as possible is part of our continuing commitment to help Minnesota achieve a full and lasting recovery," Allbaugh said.
Procedures for requesting the assistance will be explained at a series of applicant briefings to be conducted by state and federal disaster officials at locations to be announced shortly in the county area.
In the 56 counties previously declared for public assistance, local governments have made 823 requests for assistance and so far a total of $1,522,653 has been obligated for helping communities in the recovery process.