The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has once again denied Minneapolis' request for aid to survivors of the May 22 tornado.
The aid, which would help replace cars and other possessions that weren't covered by insurance, was deemed unnecessary for the area's recovery, according to a letter from a top FEMA official that arrived Friday.
More local money will flow into the North Side, however. On Friday, the Minneapolis City Council approved an additional $600,000 to support neighborhood organizations in areas damaged by the tornado.
Though the city did not receive individual assistance aid from FEMA, it did qualify for aid to help restore public facilities, which the state had estimated would cost $16.3 million.
FEMA spokesperson Marquita Hynes said the decision to deny the appeal for individual aid was based on the concentration of damage and ability of state and local governments, along with local volunteer organizations, to handle the recovery on their own.
"It's not that anything was done wrong -- it had been a very solid working relationship," Hynes said. "But again, the determination was that the damage was not of a severity to warrant the designation of individual assistance."
Doug Neville, spokesman for the Minneapolis Department of Public Safety, said the state was disappointed but that Kris Eide, the state's top emergency official, would apply for low-interest federal loans for small-business owners affected by the tornado.
The Rev. Richard Coleman, one of five core team members of the Northside Community Response Team, said he thought the denial came at a bad time, with the state shutdown and social service agencies working in limited capacities.
"I think it's tragic that the calculus on determining whether the city qualifies for city aid does not reward community engagement but in fact is using that as a factor in determining denial," said Coleman.
Chad Schwitters, executive director of Urban Homeworks, said he believed FEMA's decision would make it harder for the community to recover.
"If you overlay the unemployment and poverty index and path of the tornado, it's profound how this path ripped through a community that doesn't have a lot of economic opportunity," Schwitters said. "The FEMA dollars not coming to bear just deepens that wound."
Gov. Mark Dayton had requested the aid after the tornado blew through densely populated neighborhoods from St. Louis Park to Blaine, destroying dozens of houses, primarily in north Minneapolis. FEMA first denied the request on June 13. The city appealed on June 21, leading to Friday's announcement.
Louis King, president of Summit Academy OIC and a member of the Northside Community Response Team, said the decision would not hinder the recovery.
"We move on. We don't stop because FEMA comes and goes. We've got to come together to make our neighbors whole."
Tasnim Shamma • 612-673-7603 Twitter: @TasnimS