Pine, Carlton counties hit hard; recovery efforts underway

I am writing this column very unsure about what our communities will look like once you actually read this. Things are changing on an hourly basis right now, and there are a lot of people filled with questions and worry. This is a difficult time for our region.

While it’s too early to know the full nature and extent of damage that has been caused by the recent floods, I can tell you this: We will be fine, one way or another. Minnesota has a strong tradition of uniting behind communities in need, and I have absolutely no doubt that the federal, state and local leaders that already have been working together will pave a path toward recovery. And I have no doubt that the resilient people in our communities will continue to unite to help neighbors and friends – and perfect strangers – recover from this disaster.

I’ve been in contact with fellow colleagues at the State Capitol about how to move forward, and I’m actively working to make sure that Pine and Carlton counties receive assistance needed. If you live in one of these counties and have been affected by the flooding, here is some information to help you:

To report flood damage in Carlton County: Contact the emergency operations center at 218-384-9509, or report it online at www.co.carlton.mn.us.

To report flood damage in Pine County: Contact Sheriff Robin Cole, the designated emergency management contact, at 320-629-8380.

Businesses: Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development needs to gather information from affected businesses as soon as possible, to assess damages and help craft the state’s recovery plan. A damage assessment form for businesses is available electronically at http://sgiz.mobi/s3/d09f8604baef, or you may contact me for a printed hard copy if your business does not have Internet access right now. The forms or questions about the forms should be directed to Joe.Arel@state.mn.us.

Volunteers: The Carlton County Flood Relief Center is looking for volunteers to operate the Flood Relief Center as well as assist with cleanup projects throughout the county. The Flood Relief Center, based at the Cloquet National Guard Armory, is acting as a clearinghouse for all volunteer and donation efforts in Carlton Counties. Volunteers can call (218) 384-1112 to start the volunteer process. Anyone seeking assistance can either call or go directly to the center, which is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. The Cloquet National Guard Armory is located at 801 Highway 33..
Insurance: The Minnesota Department of Commerce’s Consumer Response Team is ready to help you understand your rights, work with your insurer to settle a claim, and help you make informed insurance decisions. You may contact consumer.protection@state.mn.us or call (800) 657-3602.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is beginning preliminary damage assessments this week. County assessors also will be inspecting and re-assessing properties throughout the region to determine the extent of damage. This information is necessary to determine future property tax relief as well as FEMA dollars that may be available to homeowners.
To help this process, please remember to take picture and document your property damage. The more information you have on hand, the easier this process will be for everyone. In addition, please heed all safety warnings from public officials in the coming weeks. Even as the water recedes, many parts of our infrastructure remain dangerous. If an area is listed as off-limits, please don’t risk your life by ignoring those warnings.

Floods and natural disasters have ravaged every corner of this state and, in every instance, Minnesotans have responded with financial assistance and personal support. In the past, the state has provided such things as property tax abatements, agricultural relief and housing assistance. Every situation is different and there’s no guarantee what type of help will arrive for us, this is an idea of the type of support my colleagues and I will be advocating for.

If you have any questions, concerns, ideas or requests, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I may be reached at sen.tony.lourey@senate.mn; 651-296-0293; or at 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.

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Senator Tony Lourey
Tony Lourey represents District 11, which includes portions of Carlton, Kanabec, Pine and St. Louis counties in the northeastern part of the state.

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