Becker County granted nearly $400,000 in disaster relief funds

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Detroit Lakes, MN (Valley News Live) A little over a month ago, violent storms with winds blowing 80 to 100 miles per hour ravaged Becker County. Communities around Lake Floyd and the Detroit Country Club were left cleaning up downed trees and power lines for days. Becker County Emergency Manager Craig Fontaine said “there was 3,500 people without electricity, some of them for up to three days.”

In the days after the storm, Fontaine says 16 different electric companies sent out trucks to repair or install temporary power lines. Despite the extra hands, Becker County still needed help. Fontaine called in representatives from communities around Becker to assess the damage that had been done and estimate the cost of clean up and repair. With documentation in order, he applied for Minnesota Disaster Relief Funds. “The governor reviewed all the materials that had come into him and they approved us for the state disaster relief,” Fontaine said.

In fact, the county was granted nearly $400,000 in funding to pay for clean up and repair bills that were incurred during the initial storm response. But there is still plenty of work to be done. Uprooted tree trunks on the public golf course can’t be removed until winter, so that the turf is hard enough to not damage, and 40 foot high piles of debris still need to be ground into compostable material.

Yet, other costs will be left up to homeowners. “I was talking to one guy and he had four trees that needed to be removed and it was going to be about $10,000,” Fontaine said. He explained that if the trees or debris didn’t land on a house or in the street, and was on someone’s property, it was up to the property owner to deal with removal or repair. Costs for tree and debris removal can climb quickly, and not all of it is covered by homeowners’ insurance either. 

While Becker County will need to come up with $125,000 on it’s own, the state disaster funding will be put to good use fixing big dollar items like utilities. “They’re utilities, but they’re funded by the residents and if it didn’t come from the state, it would be strictly coming out of our bills,” says Fontaine. He expects most of the work to be done by the time winter rolls around, but the county has up to 12 months to submit bills to the Minnesota State Disaster Relief Fund.