Officials Urge Northlanders to Seek Flood Relief Options Immediately

By KBJR News 1

August 28, 2012 Updated Aug 29, 2012 at 8:57 AM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - Last week, we introduced you to Moose Lake resident, Kathi Criley, who has been in desperate need of financial aid ever since everything in her home was destroyed by June's flood.

"I don't want to have to rely on my family to bail me out, and take care of me," said Criley, pondering her options.

Now, for Criley, and so many others, that aid is available. According to Mayor Ness, the state disaster aid bill isn't perfect, but it does address arguably the greatest area of need.

"...because especially in light of FEMA's decision not to provide that individual assistance, the state support becomes all the more critical," said Ness.

But, officials are urging every impacted individual to act quickly, because the money won't be there forever.

Officials say the best place for Northlanders to start is by applying for a loan through the Small Business Administration, which has already approved $1.7 million in Northland loans. It currently has an office located at the DECC, in Duluth, and at the Barnum Community Center, but those only stay open until Thursday.

That doesn't mean help won't be available after that however.

"The deadline for those is October 15th. For individuals and families, after that, there [are] the Quick Start loans. And, there's also the money that's been raised in the regional flood fund, as well as a number of other pockets of money. And, that money is going to start to flow very quickly," said Drew Digby, with the Long Term Recovery Committee.

While officials admit it can be a complicated process, they say Disaster Case Managers will be available in the coming days to help navigate through the network of flood relief programs.

"Those people will also be able to work people through the applications for SBA, for Quick Start, and for those unmet needs funds that are out there," said Digby.

And, for those uncertain if they qualify for assistance, you'll never know if you don't ask.

"Go down to the DECC, either today or tomorrow, and have those conversations, and have that path. And, know that you're not going to be forced into taking a loan, or taking resources that you don't want to. But, you'll know what your options are," said Ness.

Officials hope to have everyone impacted by June's flood to be living in a safe, and comfortable, environment by winter.

SBA officials say even after their offices close on Thursday, people are still urged to apply for a disaster assistance loan, either on line, or via their 800 number: