Hennepin, Ramsey counties added to disaster aid list

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Two more counties have been added to the disaster aid list in Minnesota. Thursday the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that Hennepin and Ramsey counties are eligible to apply for federal disaster aid.

According to the Pioneer Press, the city of St. Paul and the St. Paul Port Authority will be eligible to apply for $2.7 million in federal aid to fix the roads, bridges, parklands and harbor facilities impacted by severe weather in June and July.

The additions raise the total number of Minnesota counties eligible for assistance to 37, the declaration also includes three tribal governments. The 40 communities sustained damage from storms, flooding and mudslides that occurred between June 11 and July 11.

Gov. Mark Dayton issued a statement thanking FEMA officials for the adding the counties.

I very much appreciate the FEMA officials returning to Minnesota and making a careful assessment of the considerable flood damage in Hennepin, Ramsey and Dakota counties. I am very pleased that Hennepin and Ramsey counties have now been included in the FEMA emergency designation, and I am hopeful that Dakota county will also qualify. However, if it does not, it is eligible for the state emergency disaster assistance program, which the legislature passed last spring."

St. Paul's Emergency Management Director Rick Larkin told the newspaper that federal assistance will go to reimburse the city and the port authority for employee overtime and silt and debris removal amongst other things.

"The port had a lot of damage to their facilities – undercutting of dock walls and things like that," Larkin told the newspaper. "It was the seventh highest flood in our history. We haven't seen this level of flooding since 2001, and the silt and the damage sure reflected that."

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Last week, members of Minnesota's congressional delegation pressured the administration to add the two counties. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and Reps. Betty McCollum, John Kline, Keith Ellison and Erik Paulsen wrote a letter to the president urging him to add Hennepin, Ramsey and Dakota counties.

The initial disaster designation issued in July covered eight counties largely in west central and southwest Minnesota. On July 31, the declaration was extended to cover an additional 26 communities and last week three additional counties and the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa were also added.

Dakota County is still assessing its damage.

According to the The Associated Press, Dayton said it's still to soon to know if a special session will be needed. He would prefer to wait until the regular session, but Dayton won't rule out a special session if available state funds run dry.

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