Obama Approves Disaster Declaration

Friday, April 10th, 2009 at 5:23 am

Saint Paul – Governor Tim Pawlenty announced Thursday that President Obama has approved a major disaster declaration for Minnesota.  The presidential declaration clears the way for federal relief and recovery assistance in Traverse, Wilkin, Clay, Norman, Polk, Marshall and Kittson counties along the Red River in northwestern Minnesota.

Governor Pawlenty requested an expedited major disaster declaration in a letter to the President on March 25.

“Our neighbors along the Red River have been courageously battling rising waters for weeks and the fight is not over yet,” Governor Pawlenty said.  “We appreciate the support of the federal government.  I’m also renewing my request that the federal government authorize assistance to individuals and households, as many families have been severely impacted by this flood.”

Today’s Presidential major disaster declaration includes two categories of aid:

* Public Assistance:  Assistance to state and local government and certain private non-profit organizations for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities.  This applies within the seven counties in the disaster area.

* Hazard Mitigation Grant Program:  Assistance to state and local government and certain private non-profit organizations for actions taken to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life and property from natural hazards.  All counties in the State of Minnesota are eligible to apply for assistance under this program.

The declaration does not include assistance to individuals and households.  The Preliminary Damage Assessment related to individual assistance has been completed and is under review by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials in Washington, D.C.

“I’ve visited the region several times and believe strongly that the federal government should help homeowners as they recover,” Governor Pawlenty said.  “We are hopeful the individual assistance portion of our request will be approved soon.”

On March 20, Governor Pawlenty declared a State of Emergency for seven Minnesota counties as they prepared for serious flooding.  His executive order activated the National Guard to assist in flood preparations and directed the Department of Public Safety, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to activate the Minnesota Emergency Operations Plan.

Governor Pawlenty is also working with North Dakota Governor John Hoeven to undertake efforts along with city, county and congressional officials to accelerate work on permanent flood protection projects in the Red River basin.  Governor Pawlenty met with Governor Hoeven, U.S. Congressman Collin Peterson and local officials from both states last week on this issue.

(From Office of Gov. Tim Pawlenty)

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