Biden approves disaster declarations for northern Minnesota counties, tribal nations

The move allows the state, tribal nations, local governments and some nonprofits to tap into federal funds.

Lake Kabetogama flooding.
A crew places sandbags around the main building at Sandy Point Resort on Lake Kabetogama on Thursday, May 19, 2022.
Steve Kuchera / File/ Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH — Federal disaster relief funding is headed to northern Minnesota after several months of flooding and severe storms.

President Joe Biden approved a major disaster declaration for 15 Minnesota counties and four tribal nations, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said in a news release Thursday afternoon. The move allows the state, tribal nations, local governments and some nonprofits to tap into federal funds "on a cost-sharing basis" for emergency work, the repair or replacement of damaged facilities and hazard mitigation measures, FEMA said.

FEMA and the Small Business Association will be working with residents and businesses to determine eligibility for assistance from FEMA or low-interest loans from SBA, according to a Friday news release from Gov. Tim Walz.

“I’m grateful to our federal partners for recognizing the hardship this spring’s weather has brought so many Minnesotans,” Walz said in the release. “This is one step in the process of recovering from weeks of severe weather and unprecedented flooding across northern Minnesota. The state will continue to support impacted residents and businesses in every way we can in coordination with the federal government’s efforts.”

Walz wrote to Biden requesting the declaration on June 23, the release from the governor's office said.


Counties approved for federal funds are Beltrami, Clearwater, Cook, Kittson, Koochiching, Lake, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Norman, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake, Roseau and St. Louis counties.

The Bois Forte Band of Chippewa, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Red Lake Nation and White Earth Nation were also approved for federal funds.

The funding comes after record flooding along Rainy and Kabetogama lakes in northern St. Louis and Koochiching counties throughout May and June. Severe storms and tornadoes also caused damage in several other northern Minnesota counties.

St. Louis County's flood response is moving into “recovery mode."

State Rep. Rob Ecklund, DFL-International Falls, praised Biden and Walz for securing the funding.

He said Koochiching County spent $1.8 million on protective measures in the first 28 days of emergency operations.

"The president’s disaster declaration is a vital step in our recovery, and availability of federal resources will make a big difference in helping folks pull through,” Ecklund said.

This story originally contained incorrectly listed counties where flooding occurred. It was updated at 10:37 a.m. July 20. The News Tribune regrets the error.

Jimmy Lovrien covers energy, mining and the 8th Congressional District for the Duluth News Tribune. He can be reached at or 218-723-5332.
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