Six Months after June's Floods, Recovery Still Day to Day

By KBJR News 1

December 19, 2012 Updated Dec 19, 2012 at 7:29 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - A truck in the Fond du Lac neighborhood on Wednesday hauls a flood–damaged piano away from a neighborhood home. Six months later, and progress is still day to day.

Steve Waters recalls the devastating scene: "Every yard had water in it—water up to their basements. The road had trees, propane tanks, garbage cans floating down toward the river."

June's flooding left 2,000 Northland homes with an average of $10,000—$15,000 in damages, but since then, hundreds of homes have been repaired. 780 Small Business Administration loans have been closed with $7.7 million approved, and many—Waters included—have replaced their furnaces or electricity.

But Waters says his concern is with low income neighbors caught in the paperwork.

"But, there are a lot of people with low income out here that are just in the process of going through the paperwork—trying to get new water heaters, new furnaces," said Waters.

According to Carlton County Special Projects Manager Drew Digby, flood recovery efforts have now largely shifted to dealing with the unmet needs, such as water heater replacements.

"We think that just about every single person has heat or hot water [that] is still living in their homes," said Digby.

Digby says the SBA and Quick Start loan options are still on the table, depending on the situation. But if it's old damage or new damage made visible by the change of seasons, Digby says it's never too late to get in touch with a case manager.

"Disaster case managers are pretty darn good at realizing that avenues closed, let's try another one," said Digby.

Digby estimates that, come spring, there will still be 200 people in the region who didn't qualify for aid, and says outside long term relief is still ready to fill the gaps.

Digby adds that some major donors are still willing to contribute to the long term recovery fund, and that more funding could be available soon.

That announcement is expected tomorrow.

- posted to the web by Billy Wagness