Legislature Approves Disaster Relief for Northlanders

ST. PAUL, Minn. — On Friday afternoon, the Minnesota Legislature voted to approve a $167.5 million disaster relief package, which would provide significant assistance for recovery from the flood and wind storms earlier this summer.

Senator Roger Reinert said this of the special session, “I’m pleased that both bodies of the Legislature worked expeditiously today to approve assistance to those most severely impacted by the June storms—public infrastructure, private property owners, nonprofits, and our parks and trails system.”

Included in the final bill are several key pieces of aid which are critical next steps as communities such as Duluth continue to recover and move forward.

25 percent FEMA match is met in the bill, which will help local government budgets, stretched thin from debt incurred, in making essential and immediate repairs.

Assistance is also appropriated for individuals. The bill dedicates $12.2 million to Minnesota Housing’s Quick Start loan program. These loans are no interest loan of up to $30,000 per household for homeowners. The principal is repaid only if the borrower sells the house or no longer uses it as a primary residence within the 10 year loan period. In addition, there is $10 million in flood hazard mitigation funding for unique situations in which residents’ homes were condemned or destroyed.

To aid area nonprofits, the bill includes $250,000 for a capacity building grant program to help local nonprofits with organizational support such as case management services, construction management and volunteer coordination in support of the recovery efforts.

Businesses adversely affected from the June floods are eligible to apply for loans through the Department of Employment and Economic Development’s Minnesota Investment Fund. $15 million has been appropriated in the bill to cover expenses such as reparation of buildings, leasehold improvements, fixtures and equipment, loss of inventory and cleanup costs.

Local parks and trails will receive approximately $12 million for repairs for public park facilities as well as debris and sediment removal for city and county parks.

“This is a huge relief to those of us living in the Northland,” said Senator Reinert. “As a community we have worked hard, but having the state as a committed partner in our efforts will help us recover sooner.”

Senator Reinert went on to say, “Today was not about party, but rather about supporting those in need. This has been true of the whole process, and I believe it has really helped restore people’s faith that government is there when they need it.”

Now that the Legislature has passed the disaster relief provisions, the bill is heading directly to Governor Dayton’s office for signature into law.

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Senator Roger Reinert
Roger Reinert represents District 7, which includes St. Louis County. He is also an educator.

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