Disaster declaration soughtPublished 10:21am Sunday, May 29, 2011
ST. PAUL — Gov. Mark Dayton sent a letter to President Barack Obama on Friday, asking for a major federal disaster declaration following a tornado that tore through the metro area, causing damage estimated at over $16 million.
In the letter, Dayton requested the declaration for Hennepin and Anoka Counties.
Teams including members of the Federal Emergency Management Agency were in the area over the last two days, and preliminary assessments have been estimated at $16.33 million in costs and damages, Dayton’s office said.
Dayton requested public assistance for affected areas, as well as individual assistance for affected residents in Hennepin County — preliminary assessments there show 25 homes were destroyed, another 92 had major damage and 328 had minor damage.
In his letter, Dayton detailed how the EF-1 tornado developed with little warning on Sunday and moved over 14 miles, from Golden Valley to Blaine. The tornado killed one person, and another person died in its aftermath. Dozens were injured and hundreds have been displaced.
“I have determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and the affected local governments, and that supplementary federal assistance is necessary,” Dayton wrote.
As an example of some of the need, Dayton wrote that the Salvation Army has provided financial help and basic needs to 4,238 people. He also said more than $121,000 has been provided in recovery assistance, including more than $70,000 in gift cards, clothing and gas vouchers. In addition, Dayton said, 57,000 pounds of nonperishable food and hygiene supplies have been distributed.
Dayton wrote that the tornado went through “economically depressed neighborhoods hardest-hit by foreclosures in recent years.” He said of the estimated 20,612 households affected by the tornado, 7,718 live below the poverty line.
He also said the area contained a lot of rental property, with extended families living together in some cases and limited alternatives for housing.
“Although landlords are required to have property insurance, most of the renters were not insured,” he said.
If Obama declares a major disaster and public assistance is approved, FEMA will fund 75 percent of costs.