Damage assessment underway in Minnesota to determine spring disaster funding

Gary Brule's childhood home of 65 years is now flooded after heavy rain caused flooding in...
Gary Brule's childhood home of 65 years is now flooded after heavy rain caused flooding in Crookston.(Aaron Walling/KVLY)
Published: May. 24, 2022 at 10:41 AM CDT
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MINNESOTA (Valley News Live) - Public safety and emergency management officials are touring the state of Minnesota to do damage assessments from spring storms and flooding.

Over the next several weeks, teams from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Homeland Security and Emergency Management division (DPS-HSEM) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will verify damage to public infrastructure and public response costs.

Officials are reviewing damage sustained since April 22. They are assessing the scope of the severe weather damage to determine if it exceeds local and state resources, and include repair cost estimates.

Based on local initial damage assessments, HSEM projects the eligible damage expense will exceed $27 million which is nearly three times more than Minnesota’s statewide indicator for public assistance of $9.3 million.

Locations included in the damage assessment include Kittson, Polk, Roseau, Pennington, Red Lake, Beltrami, Clearwater, Marshall, Becker, Wadena, Wilkin Counties, Mahnomen, Otter Tail, Cass, and Lake of the Woods. Also included are the Red Lake and White Earth Tribal Nations.

The preliminary damage assessment is the first step in determining if Governor Tim Walz will be able to make a request for a presidential declaration of disaster:

1. Local officials conduct an initial impact assessment. Local officials to identify facilities affected, damage to public property and infrastructure, impacts to the communities and their demographics.

2. HSEM requests FEMA to conduct a preliminary damage assessment. Teams from the affected county, HSEM and FEMA conduct the assessment. They view the damage and collect the cost estimates from county officials. The teams review local emergency response records, American Red Cross records if individual homes are involved in the assessment, and compile figures for all affected counties. If the damage exceeds the federally determined damage threshold of $7.5 million statewide, the process continues.

3. HSEM prepares the governor’s request for a disaster declaration. This letter details the event and cites National Weather Service data. It must document factors that determine severity, magnitude and impact. It also documents what local officials did to respond to the emergency. Local input regarding impact to the community is gathered and incorporated in the letter. This includes the amount and type of damage, impact on infrastructure, impact on essential services, concentration of damage, level of insurance coverage, assistance available from other sources, and if there is an imminent threat to public health and safety.

4. Governor submits the letter to the president through FEMA. FEMA reviews and sends the letter, with its recommendation to the president. The president is the only one with authority to grant a Presidential Disaster Declaration. If assistance programs are approved, HSEM officials work in partnership with FEMA to assistance disaster victims in their application for funds.

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