Minn. pursuing federal aid for severe storm cleanup

In the Highland Park area of St. Paul, cleanup was underway on Saturday, June 22, 2013, after severe thunderstorms caused damage and power failures around the Twin Cities. (MPR Photo/Tim Nelson)

Minnesota officials are asking the federal government for aid in the wake of last month’s severe storms and flash floods.

The storms on June 20-21 pummeled a large swath of the state, extending from the western border through the metro and into parts of southeastern Minnesota. Power was knocked out to more than 600,000 homes in the Twin Cities and across the state, making it the biggest outage in state history. In addition, many roads, homes and businesses were damaged. Disaster recovery experts with the state say the cleanup costs could exceed the $7.26 million minimum to be considered for federal funding.

The state has requested that the Federal Emergency Management Agency assess damages next week. FEMA teams will arrive in Minnesota July 9 to assess damage in more than a dozen counties hit by severe storms and flash flooding at the end of June.

Several counties in the southeast are dealing with washed-out roads and in one case, a damaged bridge, said Kris Eide, Minnesota’s director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

“And the cost of removing debris, which, many, many trees down and so it costs a lot of money to get rid of those trees, particularly if they’re creating a public safety hazard,” Eide said.

Eide estimates the damage to public infrastructure could cost as much as $12 million.

“When I look at the damage to the infrastructure and the roads down in the southeast area, I think that’s the biggest concentration of public infrastructure damage,” Eide said. “Most of the rest of it as I said is the cost of cutting down the trees and removing them and the emergency response cost.”

Here’s more from a Minnesota Department of Public Safety news release on what the state would receive from the feds:

• Assistance to state and local government and certain private not for profit organizations for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities. This applies within the counties in the disaster area.

• Assistance to state and local government and certain private not for profit organizations for actions taken to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life and property from natural hazards. All counties in the state of Minnesota are eligible to apply for assistance under this program.