Dayton appeals FEMA individual-aid denialCiting “staggering” losses from the June floods in Northeastern Minnesota, Gov. Mark Dayton on Wednesday appealed the federal government’s denial of financial assistance to individuals.
By: News Tribune staff, Associated Press
Citing “staggering” losses from the June floods in Northeastern Minnesota, Gov. Mark Dayton on Wednesday appealed the federal government’s denial of financial assistance to individuals.
“The deluge of rain, followed by severe flooding, was one of the worst natural disasters in Minnesota’s history,” Dayton wrote in a letter to W. Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
He cited the preliminary assessment of more than $108 million to public infrastructure, the per capita cost of $675 per resident in Carlton County, and the more than 1,700 homes that were damaged by the flood, which began with 8 to 10 inches of rain in the region on June 19 and 20.
The governor learned on July 25 that FEMA had denied federal assistance to individuals. Fugate told Dayton then that damage to dwellings “was not of such severity and magnitude as to warrant the implementation of individual assistance.”
State and local officials, including Duluth Mayor Don Ness, strongly disagreed, and Dayton vowed to work on an appeal immediately.
However, the odds of winning a reversal are “difficult to impossible,” said Bruce Gordon, a spokesman for the Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division, at the time.
Still, Dayton vigorously made his case in a three-page letter to Fugate. He noted that electrical service panels, furnaces and water heaters were destroyed in many homes; that few residents had flood insurance; that low-income residents, the elderly and unemployed were particularly hard-hit; and that the heating season in northern Minnesota begins in late August.
“Unheated houses will offer little protection from the cold, and will quickly become uninhabitable,” Dayton wrote. “Time is of the essence in getting assistance to affected homeowners.”
The state also has been reeling under a series of 10 disasters during the past five years as well as the Interstate 35W bridge collapse, Dayton wrote.
“We have great concern for the future without federal assistance,” he wrote. “The requirements for individual assistance for this disaster are simply beyond our capability.”
FEMA officials assessed damaged areas in Aitkin, Carlton, Crow Wing, Lake, Pine and St. Louis counties and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa from July 11-18.
President Obama declared the region a federal disaster area on July 6, making 13 counties and the Fond du Lac Band available for federal assistance for public infrastructure repairs.