Dayton seeks disaster declaration

ST. PAUL – Gov. Mark Dayton sent a letter to President Barack Obama on Wednesday requesting the declaration of a major disaster for Minnesota resulting from heavy rainstorms and flooding since mid June. Rainfall in June set a record.

Preliminary damage assessments (PDA) conducted by FEMA and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) and county emergency managers began work on July 1. The assessment for nine counties has been completed, and $10.8 million in eligible damages has been documented – well above the $7.3 million FEMA threshold for federal assistance.

The PDA team is scheduled to meet in Brown County at 9 a.m. on Friday, July 11 at the Law Enforcement Training Center in New Ulm.

If Obama grants the major disaster declaration, assistance would be given to townships, cities, counties, schools with storm-related damage to public infrastructure. This would allow FEMA to fund 75 percent of approved costs, while the state would cover the remaining 25 percent.

The state has a $3 million emergency fund, but lawmakers could need a special session to allocate more money if that account dries up.

More than 50 counties in Minnesota, including Brown, Blue Earth, Sibley and Nicollet, have been affected by the excessive rainfalls.

Due to the higher than estimated damage, Dayton decided to seek a federal disaster declaration. “Without it, and given the already heavy burden of previous disasters, Minnesotans will struggle to return their communities to normalcy,” Dayton said.

Separately, Dayton announced that Minnesota would get up to $5 million in federal highway dollars to fix some flood-damaged roads.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this story.

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