Minnesota lawmakers set to vote on disaster aid following flood

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 22, 2012 3:41 PM
Minnesota lawmakers set to vote on disaster aid following flood

By David Bailey

MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - Minnesota legislators are set to vote on a $167.5 million disaster aid agreement following devastating flood and wind damage to Duluth and other northeastern Minnesota communities in June, Governor Mark Dayton said on Wednesday.

Dayton and legislative leaders from both parties signed off on the aid package lawmakers will be asked to vote on with no amendments in a one-day special session planned to start Friday afternoon, the governor's office said.

Heavy rains and high winds forced hundreds of residents from their homes across numerous communities including Duluth, where rushing water ripped up roads, caused mudslides and sinkholes and killed a dozen animals at the Lake Superior Zoo.

The severe storms and flooding from June 14 through June 21 caused historic damage in 13 Minnesota counties, the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa tribal nation, the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.

The aid will come from state budget reserves, Dayton said.

About $79 million would go to repair or in some cases rebuild roads and bridges and some of the money would cover the local and state matches for federal aid. Other parts of the aid package cover areas not covered by federal aid.

A federal disaster aid request from Minnesota said the storms caused more than $108 million of road and public infrastructure damage alone and that figure was likely to rise. The storms also caused damage in neighboring Wisconsin.

More than 1,700 homes in Minnesota sustained some damage from the storms. Minnesota was denied federal assistance to individual home and business owners. About 93 percent of homeowners did not carry flood insurance.

The flooding also affecting some parts of northwest Wisconsin.

(Reporting by David Bailey; Editing by Greg McCune and M.D. Golan)