It has been nearly a month since floods ravaged our Northeast Minnesota communities. The response from homeowners, business owners, volunteers and elected officials during the past few weeks has been impressive. Together, we’ve been able to take a very solid assessment of where our region stands and what is needed to move forward.
As I write this piece, the Federal Emergency Management Agency officials are continuing their inspection of affected businesses and homes to compile information needed for individual disaster assistance – money or direct assistance to those whose property has been damaged or destroyed and whose losses are not covered by insurance. This process has taken a bit longer than anticipated, but we are hopeful that the Governor’s request for individual assistance, based on these FEMA assessment numbers, will be ready by the end of the week.
I’d like to thank all of the businesses and homeowners who opened their property for these inspections. I know so many residents are facing challenges right now, but the willingness to work with all of the officials involved in the recovery process will make all the difference in the end. It’s been tremendously helpful in framing a complete picture of the level of damage our region has sustained.
On that same note, I would like to thank everyone who participated in or visited the disaster recovery centers that were opened the first weekend in July. I visited each of these sites and was very impressed with the professionalism and response provided to affected residents. U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar also visited each site, in Barnum, Willow River and Duluth, and said she was equally impressed with the coordinated efforts.
Now that we have had an opportunity to gain information from those affected by the floods, the process of rebuilding is beginning. I have been appointed to the small group of legislators and staff that will be compiling information and drafting legislation to be passed in a special legislative session, tentatively scheduled for sometime during the last two weeks of August. I realize that is a ways off, but we will have a one-day shot at getting this right. We want to make sure we have the best, most accurate information about the state of our region so we’re able to respond with the best, most effective recovery assistance. In addition, we need to know whether we’ve received the county-by-county federal disaster declaration before we can determine what state resources are needed to backfill any unmet needs.
This is an ongoing process, and I continue to appreciate everyone who is working together to make this situation right. Most of all, I continue to be impressed with the resiliency of our communities and our residents. We are ahead of schedule in getting things back together and through it all, even the people that sustained the most damage have maintained remarkably high spirits. This attitude combined with our strong work ethic is going to get us through this disaster.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions, concerns or requests. I may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 651-296-0293; or at 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.