Federal Government Announces Major Disaster Declaration to Aid Severe Storm and Flooding Damage in St. Louis County

[ST. PAUL, MN] – Governor Tim Walz announced today that the State of Minnesota has been granted a Major Disaster Declaration by the President of the United States. Former Governor Mark Dayton sent a letter to the President late last year requesting the declaration after St. Louis County experienced severe weather impacts due to damaging waves and storm-surge flooding during the period of October 9-11, 2018. The White House announced, on Friday, February 1st, the federal government’s Major Disaster Declaration.

“I am grateful for former Governor Dayton’s efforts in securing this funding for the community of St. Louis County,” said Governor Walz. “They will receive this much-needed assistance to repair and restore their community. I support and urge the passage of legislation that assists in covering the state’s 25 percent match.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) authorized use of federal public assistance (PA). They will reimburse local government applicants in St. Louis County 75 percent of their eligible costs for emergency work such as debris removal and emergency protective measures, and permanent work to repair, reconstruct, and replace public facilities and infrastructure.  Additionally, the state of Minnesota, with funds from the state disaster assistance contingency account, will reimburse the remaining 25 percent as the non-federal share of the aid.

The amount of hazard mitigation grant (HMGP) assistance is an additional 15 percent of the eligible PA costs described above that may be used to implement cost-effective, long-term measures to reduce the loss of life and damage to property due to natural disasters.

About the Types of Assistance Available

The Presidential Declaration makes two types of federal aid available to the St. Louis County community for flood and storm damage recovery:

Public Assistance Aid – 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 counties in the disaster area. To find more information, click here.

Hazard Mitigation Grants – the disaster declaration will make Hazard Mitigation Grants available, which help defray the costs of making repairs necessary to reduce or eliminate long term risks to people and property from natural hazards. Mitigation is a critical tool for breaking the cycle of disaster damage, reconstruction, and repeated damage. To find more information, click here.

About the Disaster Declaration Process

When an event occurs that is beyond the response and recovery capabilities of local and state governments, the State of Minnesota initiates a process to seek assistance from the Federal Government.

Local and State Officials Conduct Initial Impact Assessments – These assessments occur shortly after the storm when local officials inform Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) which facilities in their community are impacted or damaged, and the impacts to residents.

HSEM Requests FEMA to Conduct a Preliminary Damage Assessment – Teams from affected counties, HSEM, and FEMA conduct the assessments. They view the damage and collect the cost estimates from county officials. Each county must meet its individual threshold, which is defined as population times $3.68. The state also must meet a threshold of $7.9 million statewide. 

HSEM Prepares the Governor’s Request for a Disaster Declaration – A letter (like the one former Governor Dayton sent to the President) details the event and cites National Weather Service data. It must document factors that determine severity, magnitude, and impact. It also documents what local officials did to respond to the emergency. Local input regarding impact to the community is gathered and incorporated in the letter. This includes the amount and type of damage, impact on infrastructure, impact on essential services, concentration of damage, level of insurance coverage, assistance available from other sources, and if there is an imminent threat to public health and safety. 

Governor Submits the Letter to the President through FEMA – FEMA reviews and sends the letter, with its recommendation to the President. The President is the only one with authority to grant a Presidential Disaster Declaration. If assistance programs are approved, HSEM officials work in partnership with FEMA to assist disaster victims in their application for funds.