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Recovering from the flooding: What's next?

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Brainerd Dispatch
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Recovering from the flooding: What's next?
Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

As we work to recover from the terrible flooding and storm damage in our area, I wanted to provide you with some information on state and federal recovery efforts, and what will be happening in the coming weeks.

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As many of you know, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issued a disaster declaration for 15counties in Minnesota based on harm to public facilities and infrastructure. It took a lot of hard work between state and local officials to ensure that Crow Wing County was included in the FEMA disaster declaration. I spent a great deal of time pushing to have us included for aid and I’m thankful it happened.

Damage assessment teams recently started work and will continue to compile information for the Individual Assistance request that will be submitted as a letter from Governor Dayton to FEMA next week. They anticipate having an Individual Assistance Declaration by the end of July. At that point, constituents will be able to apply for individual assistance and FEMA inspectors will come to their homes. Individual assistance payments will be in the form of direct deposits. The average assistance payment in past disasters has been $1,400.

Once we know what FEMA will cover, the Legislature will begin work on legislation to fill any gaps. At this point, I anticipate a Special Session will be called for late August. I will be working in St. Paul and doing whatever I can for our area residents and local governments to provide assistance and relief. If you have personal property damage, you need to contact the local Crow Wing County Assessor Gary Griffin. Mr. Griffin can be reached at (218) 824-1010 or gary.griffin@co.crow-wing.mn.us.

Finally, I want to thank some special people. With the recent storms and flooding, people’s lives and property have been turned upside down. A recent email I received from a constituent made me aware of an 86 year old WWII veteran and his 84 year old wife’s situation. Their basement was filled with water and has stayed that way for the past three weeks. They had tried to get some help from some organizations but were told flooded homes were not an area of help these organizations dealt with. After I received the email from the veteran’s neighbor, I immediately called Terry Sluss, our local Red Cross contact. Terry informed me that he too had just been made aware of the situation and was running into roadblocks to help these folks.

That is when the store manager from the Home Depot along with the Minnesota Teen Challenge residents teamed up with the Red Cross to help this elderly couple. Home Depot provided all the sand bags needed and the Teen Challenge residents provided the work to save this couple’s home and belongings. I want to extend my kudos and much appreciation to all groups involved for turning a terrible/dangerous situation into a blessing. I made sure their house was the first house the FEMA team visited and assessed on Thursday.

When these disasters happen, Minnesotans come together and help out. Together, private citizens, corporate America, and government will hopefully continue to work together to make a difference in people’s lives.

Rep. John Ward-DFL is the state representative for District 12A, representing Brainerd, Crosby and Nisswa. He can be reached by phone at (651) 296-4333 or by email at rep.john.ward@house.mn.

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