Duluth City Council approves cheaper permits for flood fixupsThe cost of repairing local flood-damaged property just got less expensive, thanks to a vote of the Duluth City Council on Monday.
By: Peter Passi, Duluth News Tribune
The cost of repairing local flood-damaged property just got less expensive, thanks to a vote of the Duluth City Council on Monday.
Councilors unanimously approved a resolution cutting building permit fees in half for flood-damaged structures until the end of the calendar year. Councilor Garry Krause was absent.
The council also received an update on flood-recovery efforts from city staff.
The city continues to work with private property owners to document their flood losses, as the region prepares to make a case for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to offer individual assistance. A presidential disaster declaration already has authorized FEMA to help Duluth and other Northland communities make repairs to public infrastructure damaged by the floods.
“Probably 800 to 900 buildings need to be addressed, and I think we’ve hit about half of them,” said David Montgomery, Duluth’s chief administrative officer, discussing the city’s progress toward helping individual property owners assess their flood damage.
An intense storm dropped about 10 inches of rain on the region, resulting in widespread flash flooding June 19 and 20.
While assessments continue, Duluth has so far estimated the original value of affected properties at $36.5 million and the total lost value at about $9 million. That amounts to nearly a 25 percent reduction in the value of impacted properties.
Montgomery noted that probably more than one-third of the estimated property value losses are related to businesses struck by the flood.
On the residential side, not many homes in Duluth have been declared total losses, but many have sustained significant damage, according to Montgomery.
Duluth Fire Chief John Strongitharm said FEMA staff appear dedicated to getting a comprehensive view of the situation.
“I’m encouraged FEMA has decided to stay longer. I think that’s a good sign,” he said.
Strongitharm remains confident Duluth can complete its assessment of damage to private property by the end of the week. But he said property owners shouldn’t expect any quick resolution.
“There’s going to be a lot of red tape with this,” he said.
To help Duluth navigate its way through the relief labyrinth, the city may hire a natural disaster consultant. It recently issued a request for proposals from firms that specialize in this area.