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Residents eligible for flood aid

Sun, Jul 16th, 2000
Posted in

Monday, July 17, 2000

Heavy weekend rains led to flooding throughout Mower, Fillmore and Houston counties last week. In Austin, more than 150 homes were damaged when the Cedar River rose to record levels. In Spring Valley, a third round of flooding from Spring Valley Creek this year caused homes and businesses to be evacuated. In Preston, flooding occurred along the Root River, blocking two roads and inundated homes and businesses in the southwest part of town. By weeks end, towns along the Root River were feeling the impact as Rushford, Houston and Hokah had to deal with high water.

While towns in western Fillmore County were experiencing flooding on Monday, on Tuesday, July 12, representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Minnesota Division of Emergency Management (MDEM) were in Preston to help city, township and county officials apply for public assistance to offset the costs of cleaning up from previous flooding.

It was only a few weeks ago that a presidential declaration on June 27 made units of government and school districts eligible to receive disaster funds to remove debris, carry out emergency activities and to make repairs to roads, public buildings and utilities. The federal government will cover 75% of the costs, with the state (15%) and local governments (10%), making up the 25% match. Counties included in the declaration were Dodge, Faribault, Fillmore, Freeborn, Houston, Mower and Winona.

A request to provide assistance to individuals and businesses in the original declaration was denied due to the low number of units affected.

This all changed on Wednesday, however, with the flooding in Austin. Once the number of houses damaged reached 150, FEMA announced that individuals and businesses in Mower, Fillmore and Houston counties were eligible for assistance (see related story on page three). Using the original presidential declaration of June 27, FEMA said that individuals had a 60 day window from that date in which to apply for federal assistance.

Sam Ventura, FEMA Public Relations Officer, stopped in the Journal office in Preston to say that individual property damaged since the initial flooding incident on May 17 are potentially eligible for assistance.

"The only way residents can apply to FEMA is by phone," Ventura said. "The whole process starts there."

Ventura said that an interviewer will ask a series of questions and arrange for an inspector to make an appointment with the resident to assess the damage.

"The time to process a claim could be as short as a couple of weeks," Ventura said.

The federal government will provide 75% of funding to eligible applicants, with the individual providing a 25% match.

Spring Valley Flood Control

• State Senator Kenric Scheevel, working with Congressman Gil Gutknecht's office, wants to bring state and federal officials together with the Spring Valley City Council during the second week in August to look at long-term flood control. The flood control meeting will look at possible solutions such as widening and deepening river channels, building reservoirs to slow flood waters, and slowing water flow from ag land with buffer strips.

• According to Spring Valley City Administrator, Mike Bubany, the city is looking into the possibility of buying and removing several residents in the city's flood plain.

"If there is 50% or more damage to a structure in a flood plain, the city can apply for funding from FEMA and the DNR to remove or elevate the building," Bubany said. "There are seven or eight homes and three businesses that have contacted the city about this."

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