Gov. Dayton requests disaster declaration for 18 Minnesota counties

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NEWS RELEASE — St. Paul, MN — Gov. Mark Dayton sent a letter to President Barack Obama this week requesting a major federal disaster declaration for 18 counties affected by flash flooding and severe storms June 20-26.

In his letter, Gov. Dayton requests Benton, Big Stone, Douglas, Faribault, Fillmore, Freeborn, Grant, Hennepin, Houston, McLeod, Morrison, Pope, Sibley, Stearns, Stevens, Swift, Traverse and Wilkin be included in the disaster declaration after preliminary damage assessments revealed $17.8 million in costs and damages.

If granted by the President, the disaster declaration would provide assistance to townships, cities, counties, schools, and certain private not-for-profit organizations for uninsured and eligible storm-related damage to public infrastructure.

Examples of eligible expenses include:
• Debris Removal
• Emergency Protective Services
• Repair or replacement of  storm-damaged:
• Roads and Bridges
• Water control facilities
• Buildings and equipment
• Municipal utilities
• Parks and recreational facilities

If the President declares a major disaster, FEMA will fund 75 percent of approved costs. Local and state governments are responsible for the remaining 25 percent.

The governor’s letter also requests that the declaration include funding for the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. All counties in the state would be eligible to apply for assistance under this program which provides funding to state and local governments and certain private not-for-profit organizations to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life and property from natural hazards.

Disaster Declaration Process
1. Initial Damage Assessment
Following flash flooding and severe storms June 20-26, local officials, in consultation with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Division of Homeland Security Emergency Management (HSEM), identified damage and impact to their communities

2. HSEM requests FEMA conduct preliminary damage assessment
Last week, teams from the affected counties, HSEM and FEMA conducted preliminary damage assessments. They viewed the damage and collected cost estimates from county officials. The teams reviewed local emergency response records. If the damage appears to exceed the statewide damage threshold of $7.26 million the process continues.

3. HSEM prepares governor’s request for a disaster declaration
Letter details the event and cites National Weather Service data. It must document factors that determine severity, magnitude and impact. It also documents what local officials did to respond to the emergency. Local input regarding impact to the community is gathered and incorporated into the letter. This includes the amount and type of damage, impact on infrastructure, impact on essential services, concentration of damage, level of insurance coverage, assistance available from other sources and if there is an imminent threat to public health and safety.

4. Gov. Dayton submits the letter to the president through FEMA
FEMA reviews and sends the letter with its recommendation to the president.

A copy of Governor Dayton’s immigration letter is attached.

About the Minnesota Department of Public Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety comprises 11 divisions where 2,100 employees operate programs in the areas of law enforcement, crime victim assistance, traffic safety, alcohol and gambling, emergency communications, fire safety, pipeline safety, driver licensing, vehicle registration and emergency management. DPS activity is anchored by three core principles: education, enforcement and prevention.

About HSEM
Homeland Security and Emergency Management helps Minnesotans prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies and disasters.

• HSEM staff members are helping Minnesota communities recover from seven federally declared disasters from 2010 through 2012.

• In FY2012, HSEM awarded 402 Homeland Security grants totaling $80 million to 300 local governments and other entities to prepare them for all hazards including terrorism.

HSEM oversees:
• 11 Chemical Assessment Teams
• 1 Emergency Response Team (hazardous materials)
• 5 Structural Collapse Teams making up MN Task Force 1
• 4 Bomb Squads


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