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Worthington Questions Federal Funding

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Earlier this month, much of southwest Minnesota was declared a federal disaster area by President Barack Obama, making cities like Worthington eligible for federal funding to clean up after the recent ice storm.

It’s the first time many of these areas have dealt with such a clean up, so as you can imagine; there are some who still have questions about the funding.

Ever since the funding was approved, crews have been busy cleaning up city parks throughout Worthington. But just a quick glance at the work that has been done, you may question just how much help the city is getting.

“We’re using Ceres to do the debris removal, then True North is doing what’s called the monitoring service to ensure that it’s done to FEMA specifications,” says City Administrator Craig Clark.

The tree trimming funded by FEMA is not necessarily to make the trees pleasing to the eye, but to make the parks safe again.

“They’re talking about hanging branches. They’re not really pruning the trees and kind of shaping them up the way some people may commonly expect,” says Clark.

Since safety is the main concern, the harmless branches less than two inches in diameter aren’t trimmed, either. This leaves a lot of work to be done once the federal funding has stopped coming in.

“We know that there’s going to be other responsibilities for us to help return things as close as we can to pre-disaster condition,” says Clark.

He says that since this is the first time Worthington has needed federal aid, it's been somewhat difficult to completely understand all the regulations.

“You know, we’re certainly very appreciative that FEMA is here to help, and again: It isn’t something that we could deal with as a community on our own,” says Clark.

It’ll be a task that city officials now realize will get done slowly, but surely.

When it comes to private property, city officials in Worthington say residents must have their debris on the street ready for final pick up by May 28, 2013. After that, tree removal will be the responsibility of each individual property owner.
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