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Letter: State rep provides disaster relief update

By District 22B Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake

Recently I was briefed on the status of southwestern Minnesota disaster relief and thought I’d share what I learned with you.

As a result of last month’s flooding, President Obama declared a major disaster in eight Minnesota counties, including Jackson, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone and Rock. The president’s declaration will deliver federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in areas affected by severe storms and flooding. The most recent pre liminary damage assessment figures from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) shows $37.1 million in eligible expenses, but that number is expected to rise.

FEMA will reimburse 75 percent of approved costs, while the State of Minnesota will pay the non-federal share. Eligible work includes debris removal, emergency services related to the disaster and repair or replacement of damaged public facilities, such as roads, power poles, buildings, utilities and recreation areas.

The presidential declaration makes two types of federal aid available to Minnesota communities for flood and storm damage recovery: Public Assistance Aid, which provides assistance to state and local government and certain private not for profit organizations for emergency work and the repair or re-placement of disaster-damaged facilities; and the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which provides assistance for actions taken to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life and property from natural hazards.

State agencies are currently conducting their own damage assessments concurrently with the FEMA assessments. In addition, many agencies have already begun necessary repair work which will continue in the coming weeks and months.

Moving forward, local leaders will soon be meeting with federal and state officials to learn more about the disaster recovery process, to discuss an action plan, and to clearly define the work that needs to be completed — along with its projected cost.

I will be sure to keep you updated with any future disaster relief information. In the meantime, if you have questions or concerns please contact me at 1-800-735-2463 or by email at rep.rod.hamilton@house.mn.

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