The Federal Emergency Management Agency rejected Minnesota's request for additional aid to flood-damaged homes and businesses in the northeast corner of the state, saying the damage wasn't severe enough.
The floods that hit Duluth and 13 surrounding counties in mid-June caused millions of dollars in damage. Earlier this month, the Obama administration issued a major disaster declaration for the region and pledged aid to local governments to repair damage to public structures like roads, bridges and utilities.
But when Gov. Mark Dayton requested additional federal aid for the homeowners and individuals who had suffered flood damage to their private property, FEMA rejected the request. In a letter issued Wednesday, the agency concluded: "Based on our review of all of the information available, it has been determined that the damage to dwellings from this event was not of such severity and magnitude as to warrant the implementation of Individual Assistance under major disaster declaration FEMA-4069-DR. Therefore, I must inform you that your request for Individual Assistance is denied."
In response, the Dayton spokesman said "the governor is very disappointed in FEMA’s decision, and is currently working with state agencies to explore next steps." The governor plans to call a special session of the Legislature in August to direct state aid and resources to the flood-battered counties.
The state estimates that the floods caused at least $108 million in damage to public infrastructure. But when he made his request for individual assistance, the governor noted that the damage to private property was even worse.
"Even more widespread and insidious is the damage caused to individual homes and businesses," Dayton wrote in his request to FEMA on July 19. "More than 1,700 private homes were impacted by the storm and over 100 businesses sustained damage...The sustained high heat and humidity following the disaster have exacerbated mold growth in affected structures, especially in below-ground living spaces."
The state will have 30 days to appeal FEMA's ruling.