October 26, 2014

FEMA Denies Federal Individual Assistance for Flood Victims

By KBJR News 1

July 25, 2012 Updated Dec 20, 2013 at 7:37 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) -- FEMA announced Wednesday there will be no federal disaster dollars available for individuals who suffered property damage in last month's flood of the century.

Duluth Mayor Don Ness is calling the news a "travesty."

LeAnn Wallace reports.

Mayor Ness said he was shocked that FEMA has decided not to help individuals.

He said the working relationship with officials from FEMA was good when it came to the public infrastructure side, and he's amazed they didn't see the same devastation to individual properties.

FEMA said based on their assessments while they were on the ground here in the Northland, there is not enough damage to individual dwellings to warrant the implementation of individual assistance under the major disaster declaration by FEMA.

FEMA crews assessed more than 1,100 homes while they were in the region surveying the damage.

According to the agency's classifications, 17 homes were considered destroyed, 154 sustained major damaged, 419 had minor damage and another 479 were affected.

Mayor Ness said it's inconceivable that FEMA would deny individuals assistance, when that's where the need is so great.

"In my mind this decision is nothing short of a travesty. And I'm not sure what the FEMA officials saw, but over the course of the past month in traveling around the city of Duluth and traveling around the region, I've seen first hand the devastation, I've seen first hand the heartbreak."

Governor Mark Dayton says he is appealing a decision by FEMA denying federal disaster dollars to the hundreds of Minnesota homeowners affected by last month's devastating flood.

The Governor asked President Obama last week, for help for individual homeowners but a letter came Wednesday denying that request.

In the days following the floods, federal lawmakers toured the areas hit hardest in an effort to assess whether the extent of the disaster qualified homeowners for FEMA aid.

US Senator Al Franken said today while he's disappointed in the decision to deny individual assistance, he's not surprised.

"It is much easier in this kind of situation to get the public infrastructure assistance, which we've gotten. The way FEMA looks at it, that's very important to get the communities on their feet, the infrastructure, water, sewer, the electricity, the roads, in place."

Senator Franken said he would support the Governor's appeal.

Mayor Ness added that many of the residents, hit hardest by the flood, are low–income and have no means to rebuild.

He also said anything short of an appeal would be a disservice to the residents of our region that have been so directly and negatively impacted by this disaster.


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