Officials to assess storm damage to see if counties could get disaster assistance


State officials will be assessing damage from the July 12 storms that ripped through the Brainerd Lakes Area to see if counties meet the criteria for disaster assistance.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Homeland Security and Emergency Management division (DPS-HSEM) announced Sunday that it will be conducting preliminary damage assessments in Cass, Crow Wing and Todd counties on Monday and Tuesday.

The storms devastated the area, downing thousands of trees, damaging buildings and knocking out power for some for up to a week. Resorts in the area were some of the hardest hit, with many still working to reopen areas of the property.

Officials will be determining the extent of damage to public infrastructure, as well as costs to remove debris and provide emergency protective measures following the storm to see if the costs are eligible under the state program.

If the damages exceed the threshold, the county can then submit a resolution requesting state disaster assistance. DPS-HSEM then reviews the request and submits it to Gov. Mark Dayton for approval.

In 2014, Dayton signed legislation that established the first state disaster contingency account, which provides assistance to counties that don't meet the federal threshold during a major disaster declaration.

So far, three counties – Morrison, Dakota and Washington – have received assistance from the state since Dayton signed the legislation.

These three counties suffered damage caused by last summer's heavy rains, widespread flooding and mudslides that impacted 37 counties and three tribal nations. Dayton requested federal aid following the storms, but not all of the counties met the federal threshold, which is determined by a population-based formula. 

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