WASHINGTON – Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak met with federal disaster relief officials today to lobby for more aid for the city after a tornado swept through North Minneapolis last month destroying and damaging
hundreds thousands of homes.
While the Obama Administration did commit to providing money to help repair public infrastructure destroyed by the storm, the federal government had turned down an initial request to help individuals whose property had been destroyed or damaged.
Rybak, who had been in nearby Baltimore over the weekend for the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting, met this morning at the White House with Federal Emergency Management Agency officials to appeal their aid decision.
“Before this meeting we set the level that we didn’t expect to walk out of the White House with a check nor did we get it,” Rybak said. “But we did make more progress than I expected on multiple fronts.”
Minneapolis will be able to reapply for the individual disaster assistance, which would go toward helping the 274 homes and businesses seriously damaged by the tornado.
“We can’t be certain how successful we’ll be in getting that aid but we believe after our meeting that we have a stronger case to get individual assistance and we’ll be working hard on it,” Rybak said, adding that a final decision by FEMA would come within a matter of weeks.
In fact later in the day Gov. Mark Dayton’s office said the state would reapply for the assistance.
Rybak stopped by Capitol Hill to brief Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar on his meetings.
“I also called FEMA and made the same case, just so that they knew the nature of the population on the North Side and how vulnerable they are,” Franken said.
Both senators said they would also find additional grants resources for the area from other parts of the federal government including the Small Business Administration and the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“We’ll do everything we can do to help with the city here,” Klobuchar said. “It’s not always about passing a bill or getting a major [disaster] declaration but it’s also about looking at some of these other things where you can apply for grants.”
Later this afternoon, Rybak will go back to the White House to join a bipartisan group of mayors who are meeting with President Obama to discuss the economy and jobs.
“He’s the president, I’ll talk about whatever he wants to talk about,” Rybak said. “But you can imagine that I will figure out some way to work the word “tornado” into my response.”