FEMA, state agency open flood relief office in DuluthA federal and state agency plan to open a field office in Duluth to coordinate area flood relief efforts and assist with application materials.
By: Peter Passi, Duluth News Tribune
A federal and state agency plan to open a field office in Duluth to coordinate area flood relief efforts and assist with application materials.
The office at 800 E. Central Entrance will be unveiled during a news conference this morning by its new joint tenants: the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, or HSEM.
Julie Anderson, external affairs coordinator for HSEM, said staff at the field office will work directly with governmental entities attempting to access federal disaster aid related to recent flood events. She said the field office will not deal with private individuals seeking aid. Anderson explained that if FEMA subsequently approves disaster aid for private property owners, it will open additional disaster recovery centers to work with individuals, but eligibility for such assistance has yet to be determined.
About one dozen people will work in the joint field office. Anderson said staff from remote locations also will assist with putting together plans for specific recovery projects in the declared disaster area. That area includes Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Crow Wing, Dakota, Goodhue, Kandiyohi, Lake, Meeker, Pine, Rice, Sibley and St. Louis counties. Three tribal nations also are included in the disaster zone: the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwa.
The joint field office in Duluth will serve the entire area affected by the floods. Anderson said there are no firm plans to open any additional satellite field offices at this time.
Field staff will help local government officials navigate the paperwork associated with obtaining relief money. They also will offer their expertise in a number of fields. Anderson said engineers will be available to advise on how to mitigate the risk of future flooding, and other staff can provide guidance on a wide range of issues, including how to deal with damage to historic structures.
“They’ll stick around and work hand-in-hand with applicants for as long as they’re needed,” Anderson said.