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Governor Dayton requests presidential disaster declaration

Thu, Jul 10th, 2014
Posted in All State of Minnesota

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Today, Governor Mark Dayton requested that President Barack Obama declare a major disaster in Minnesota as a result of heavy rainstorms and flooding that began June 11. In a letter to President Obama, Governor Dayton described widespread flood damage across Minnesota, and noted that he has expanded the state’s peacetime state of emergency to include 16 additional counties – bringing the total counties impacted to 51.

To date, $10.8 million in eligible damages have been documented through preliminary damage assessments in Chippewa, Freeborn, Jackson, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone, Renville, and Rock counties. The FEMA threshold for federal assistance is $7.3 million in statewide eligible damages.

In his letter to the President, Governor Dayton said 31 counties and one American Indian tribe have reported more than $55 million in response costs and uninsured damages to public infrastructure. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM), FEMA, and county emergency managers are continuing to assess damage in affected counties.

Governor Dayton noted that preliminary damage assessments are coming in higher than initial estimates, and because some of the hardest hit areas won’t be able to be assessed for several weeks, he is requesting a federal disaster declaration now. The Governor said once all preliminary damage assessments are complete, he will formally request FEMA designate assistance for all additional counties and tribal governments that exceed their threshold.

Most of the damage reported by local officials is to roads and bridges. Local governments also expended significant resources to protect their communities from floodwaters and for cleanup operations caused by mudslides and sinkholes.

If granted by the President, the disaster declaration would provide assistance to townships, cities, counties, schools, and certain private not-for-profit organizations for uninsured and eligible storm-related damage to public infrastructure.

Examples of eligible expenses would include:

•Debris Removal

•Emergency Protective Services

•Repair or replacement of storm-damaged:

•Roads and Bridges

•Water control facilities

•Buildings and equipment

•Municipal utilities

•Parks and recreational facilities

If the President declares a major disaster, FEMA would fund 75 percent of approved costs. Under legislation signed by Governor Dayton this year, the state will pay the 25 percent non-federal share.

The Governor’s letter also requests that the declaration include funding for the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. All counties in the state would be eligible to apply for assistance under this program which provides funding to state and local governments and certain private not-for-profit organizations to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life and property from natural hazards.

Governor Expands Peacetime State of Emergency to Include 16 More Counties

Governor Dayton today issued Executive Order 14-12, expanding the peacetime state of emergency in Minnesota to include the following 16 counties: Anoka, Chippewa, Chisago, Dakota, Hennepin, Itasca, Kandiyohi, Lac Qui Parle, Martin, Marshall, Stearns, Wabasha, Washington, Watonwan, Wright, and Yellow Medicine. A full copy of the Governor’s Executive Order is available here.

Disaster Declaration Process

When an event occurs that is beyond the response and recovery capabilities of local and state governments, the State initiates a process to seek Federal assistance.

•Local and state officials conduct an initial impact assessment.

This occurs shortly after the storm when local officials inform HSEM which facilities in their community are impacted, damage, impacts to the communities and their demographics.

•HSEM requests FEMA to conduct a preliminary damage assessment.

Teams from the affected county, HSEM and FEMA conduct the assessment. They view the damage and collect the cost estimates from county officials. Each county must meet its individual threshold which is defined as population times $3.50. The state must also meet a threshold of $7.3 million statewide.

•HSEM prepares the governor’s request for a disaster declaration.

A letter details the event and cites National Weather Service data. It must document factors that determine severity, magnitude and impact. It also documents what local officials did to respond to the emergency.

Local input regarding impact to the community is gathered and incorporated in the letter. This includes the amount and type of damage, impact on infrastructure, impact on essential services, concentration of damage, level of insurance coverage, assistance available from other sources, and if there is an imminent threat to public health and safety.

•Governor submits the letter to the president through FEMA.

FEMA reviews and sends the letter, with its recommendation to the president. The president is the only one with authority to grant a Presidential Disaster Declaration. If assistance programs are approved, HSEM officials work in partnership with FEMA to assistance disaster victims in their application for funds.

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