One Year Later: Latest Figures in Northland Flood Recovery Efforts

By KBJR News 1

June 17, 2013 Updated Jun 17, 2013 at 6:15 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Duluth Mayor Don Ness says, from a calendar standpoint, the city is not quite half–way through its recovery.

"But in reality, most of the heavy lifting of flood recovery—in terms of the fixing of the roads, and fixing of the culverts, and addressing some of the structural damage caused by the floods—most of that work is going to be done in the next 12 months," said Ness during a city "clean and green" event.

Most of the paperwork, engineering, and negotiations with FEMA are either complete, or near completion, "so now we focus our attention on actually doing the fixes," said Ness.

While Federal and State funding helped shape a recovery path for public infrastructure, Mayor Ness says one of the largest struggles came with FEMA's denial of individual flood recovery assistance.
Those efforts, according to Long Term Recovery Manager Drew Digby, will be critical this summer.

Of the 1,961 homes affected by the flood throughout the region, about 1,000 have been repaired, and a couple hundred still have substantial work left to do.

"This summer is the absolute crucial moment to get lots and lots of work done, state and federal loans are closing all the time," said Digby.

While both the Small Business Administration and Quickstart loan options have technically closed for affected homeowners, Digby says they're still remaining sympathetic to those in need.

"For example, during the spring thaw all of a sudden some new damage showed up. That's a legitimate reason to ask them to open a case for you," said Digby.

Lutheran Social Service, which helped coordinate 60 emergency furnace repairs during fall and winter months, has hundreds of volunteers and skilled labor ready to rebuild about 100 homes this summer.

"We still do need to raise about $100,000 more for supplies and material for those volunteers," said Digby.

That funding, says Digby, will hopefully become available through community action, and donations, to the various private non–profit recovery efforts.

The Regional Flood Fund has raised over $760,000, and helped roughly 380 homes.

Along with that, funds raised through the Ordean Foundation, Salvation Army, and Catholic and Lutheran Churches have contributed $ 2 million to the areas where federal funds haven't come through.

- Posted to the Web by Billy Wagness