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Counties ask for financial assistance for storm damage

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news Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

BEMIDJI — Beltrami, Cass and Itasca Counties, along with American Indian tribes in the area, have collaborated to deliver a resolution to Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, asking for financial assistance for the $3.3 million in storm damage the counties accumulated this summer.

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Dayton wants the Small Business Administration to make low-interest loans available to repair homes and businesses damaged by storms and flooding. He has asked for an initial framework for disaster relief of $192 million for areas of central and northeastern Minnesota that received storm damages, a total decided on after state and federal agencies surveyed and estimated damages.

County Emergency Management, like Cass County’s manager, Kerry Swenson, are all awaiting the Aug. 24 special legislative session, which will focus on disaster aid.

Swenson said Cass County alone sustained $375,000 in storm damage, as a result of flooding damage in mid-June and the damage from the July 2 wind storm.

Beltrami County’s damage totaled $984,000.

Rep. John Persell, DFL-Bemidji, issued a statement to the Disaster Relief Working Group, which met Thursday to hear recommendations on how to address relief for communities affected by storms and flooding.

“The disaster up here in Northern Minnesota is one of the worst our state has seen, both in terms of its size and in its total damage,” Persell said. “As such, it is imperative that we work together to move forward with a relief package that effectively responds to the server damage that this disaster has inflicted on our communities and local economies.”

Persell said any reluctance by the Republicans to move forward on plan for disaster relief puts businesses at risk of falling behind.

“Moving forward, I hope our work on this matter can be done with a unity of purpose characteristic of Minnesotans,” Persell said in his statement. “Our citizens, businesses and communities are depending on us to do the right thing.”

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