President: A major disaster exists
Published 2:13 pm Saturday, July 3, 2010
President Barack Obama on Friday declared a major disaster exists in Minnesota and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area struck by severe storms, tornadoes and flooding during the period of June 17 to 26.
Federal funding is available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe storms, tornadoes and flooding in Faribault, Freeborn, Olmsted, Otter Tail, Polk, Steele and Wadena counties.
Assistance to individuals affected was not approved yet. FEMA spokesperson, Sandy Jasmund, said decisions are still being made.
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“Things are still under review,” Jasmund said. “There’s a possibility of doing further damage assessment.”
The director of the Minnesota Department of Homeland Security, Kris Eide, said individual assistance is commonly denied because one of the things FEMA looked at in their damage assessment was the amount of homeowners with insurance.
“The percentage of those with insurance in Minnesota is quite high,” Eide said.
The Associated Press reported that there were 842 homes affected by the tornadoes on June 17, and Eide explained that FEMA only looks at homes that were destroyed or had major damage.
Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.
W. Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Homeland Security, named Lawrence Sommers as the federal coordinating officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area.
The next step for those seeking public assistance will be to attend the briefing meetings that will be scheduled in the near future. At those meetings schools, non-profits and other public organizations affected by storms will learn about the kinds of reimbursements available.
Part of the major disaster declaration signed by President Barack Obama includes emergency loans for eligible farmers through the Farm Service Agency. Emergency loan applications will be accepted through March 2, 2011. The executive director of Freeborn County’s Farm Service Agency Office is Lee Crawford, and farmers can call 507-373-7960 requesting emergency loans.
Crawford did a damage assessment of agriculture-related damage for the report that requested a major disaster declaration from the president. The report comprised of any damage from storms from June 17 to June 26.
Crawford is also looking for other ways that farmers could get assistance from the recent storms. He is working to get the secretary of agriculture to declare a disaster in Freeborn County. This would be separate from the president’s disaster declaration. To receive a disaster declaration from the secretary of agriculture there needs to be at least 30 percent of crops lost in the county or other extenuating circumstance.
“We don’t have a 30 percent loss when looking at the whole county,” Crawford said.
Though there were many farmers with losses the storms didn’t affect the southeastern part of Freebon County. He still wants to pursue the declaration because some farmers have a complete loss, and he believes that so many storms in a short period of time will hopefully define extenuating circumstances.
“It’s well worth the effort to pursue that,” Crawford said. “All I can do is present the facts to them.”
If the secretary of agriculture declared a disaster, it would make more disaster programs available. One program is the Supplement Revenue Assistance Payments Program, which will pay farmers with a 10 percent loss after they work with their crop insurers.
Some assistance is already available to certain farmers who were affected by the recent storms. One program is the Livestock Indemnity Program, which will pay farmers who had livestock killed during the storms. There are some requirements, one of which is to talk to the Freeborn County FSA Office within 30 days of the event. Even if farmers have insurance for their livestock, they can still receive assistance through this program.
Another program available is the Emergency Livestock Assistance Program. This program helps livestock producers who lost feed during a storm. It does not apply to those who produce feed if they do not also produce their own livestock. For either livestock assistance program, interested farmers need to contact the FSA Office at 507-373-7960.
Important Agricultural Deadlines
Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and Emergency Livestock Assistance Program (ELAP) — 30 days from event
2010 Certification (This includes Conservation Reserve Program customers) — July 15
Average Crop Revenue Election in 2009 (ACRE) — July 15
Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) — July 15