The head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that President Bush has declared a major disaster for Minnesota, opening the way for the use of federal disaster funds to help meet the recovery needs of flood-stricken people and communities in the southeastern part of the state.
Michael Brown, Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response, said the President took the action following a review of FEMA’s analysis of the state’s request for federal assistance. The declaration covers damage to private and public property from severe storms and flooding that began on Sept. 14.
After the declaration, Brown designated the counties of Dodge, Faribault, Freeborn, Mower and Steele eligible for federal aid to affected residents that can include grants to help pay for temporary housing, home repairs and other serious disaster-related expenses. Low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration also will be available to cover residential and business losses not fully compensated by insurance.
In addition, Brown said federal funds will be provided for the state and affected local governments and certain private non-profit organizations in the five designated counties to pay 75 percent of the eligible costs for the restoration of damaged facilities. The funding also covers eligible state and local government costs for debris removal and emergency services related to the disaster.
Under the declaration, federal funding also will be available to the state on a cost-shared basis for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks, Brown said. He indicated that additional designations may be made later if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.
FEMA is asking the public’s assistance in managing call volume to support the agency’s effort to prioritize help to those with the greatest need. Owners of commercial properties and residents with only minor losses are urged to wait a few days before calling so those whose homes were destroyed or heavily damaged can be served first. Hurricane victims with insurance coverage should contact their insurance company or agent before calling to report losses and, if necessary, to request an advance or partial payment of their settlement.
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