MN Counties Applying For FEMA Assistance
by Jeff Rusack, Reporter
April 23, 2013 3:45 PM
April's ice storm was not only damaging to trees and power lines, local city budgets have also been hit hard by the storm. Some towns in Southwestern Minnesota have spent almost half their annual budget trying to recover from the storm.
Tuesday, officials from FEMA went to five Minnesota counties to see if they are eligible for federal funding.
“How did you come up with the dollar amount that you came up with? What was your rational behind that?” Questions asked by FEMA officials.
It's easy for city officials to throw out an estimate of storm damage in the wake of disaster. But, FEMA officials wanted to make sure cities are providing accurate numbers when asking for help.
“It's very important. And we know from working a lot of disasters, stuff comes up weeks after an event.”
The main cost for small cities is the cleanup, which is still happening in many of them. And that makes knowing the final cost of the storm a little tricky.
“The reason that figure was there, is we were looking at, not only the initial cleaning up the limbs, but going back through taking the trees down and the stump removals,” said John Call, the city administrator of Luverne about the city’s over $600-thousand dollar storm clean up price tag.
The mayor of Hills says his town’s financials are in trouble.
“The city incurred a great deficit by this storm for the cleanup efforts which will be ongoing for several weeks yet,” said Mayor Keith Elbers.
That's why he's hoping the federal government will help by chipping in 75% of the bill.
“The city budget is going to be close to being whipped out. And without any aid, obviously that money has got to come from somewhere to continue day to day business. But, we just take it one day at a time and hopefully things fall into place,” said Mayor Elbers.
The five counties need to show at least $7-million worth of damage, including public utilities and not for profit businesses. That's where certain electrical companies come into play.
“Initially, what it boils down to is probably some of the rural electrics out in the county. Are they not for profit or will that amount count? I think if that does we'll probably hit the $7-million threshold,” said Call.
Help may be on the way for cities like Luverne and Worthington. If not, the bills from this month’s storm could be shouldered by the state and local city budgets.