A car sat in a giant sinkhole in Duluth after floods hit the city on June 20. Federal assistance to cover individual losses was denied again because the 171 homes damaged did not meet the FEMA threshold.

Brian Peterson, Star Tribune

FEMA again rejects aid for flood victims

  • Article by: BILL McAULIFFE
  • Star Tribune
  • August 11, 2012 - 12:36 AM

Federal officials have for the second time denied assistance to owners of private property damaged in June's massive flash floods.

After Friday's denial, Gov. Mark Dayton indicated he will ask the Legislature to pick up the $7.4 million repair bill.

In denying Dayton's appeal of a July 25 decision, the Federal Emergency Management Agency reasserted that damage to private property didn't reach the threshold for federal assistance. FEMA usually reserves those grants for disasters that cause serious uninsured damage to more than 500 homes, and the state counted only about 171 homes with such damage.

The agency has approved assistance for repairs of publicly owned buildings, roads and structures.

FEMA similarly denied assistance to individual property owners after the north Minneapolis tornado in May 2011; after several tornadoes that heavily damaged Wadena, Minn., and several other communities in Minnesota, killing three people in June 2010, and after flash floods across 150 miles of southern Minnesota in September 2010 damaged about 600 homes and businesses in mostly rural areas.

It did provide individual assistance after flash floods in southeast Minnesota in August 2007 destroyed 1,400 homes across seven counties. Particularly devastated was Rushford, which was flooded when water topped a levee. Seven people were killed during several days of storms that included a state 24-hour record rainfall.

FEMA also denies individual assistance in situations where it appears local resources can cover the losses.

The bottom line on damage to public property from the June 19-21 flooding across 13 counties and three tribal nations in northern Minnesota is currently $190 million, most of which will come from FEMA. The Legislature is tentatively scheduled to meet in a special session Aug. 24 to consider writing a check to trigger that FEMA contribution.

Bill McAuliffe • 612-673-7646

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