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Beltrami eligible for FEMA assistance

Beltrami County is now eligible for individual assistance from the federal government for flooding this spring, the officials said Wednesday night.

Beltrami, Marshall and Polk counties were added as eligible for individual assistance programs Wednesday, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Minnesota Joint Field Office.

They join previously announced Clay, Norman, Traverse and Wilkin counties for the assistance.

Individual assistance eligibility "means our homeowners, who incurred damages during the overland flooding, will be eligible for FEMA assistance, Beryl Wernberg, Beltrami County Emergency Management director, said Wednesday night.

"We are in the process of setting up a meeting site for FEMA and homeowners and will be announcing that sometime in the next day or so," Wernberg said.

Most of the overland flooding in the Bemidji area occurred in the Tyler Estates neighborhood in east Bemidji.. FEMA and other officials conducted a flood damage assessment Monday in the neighborhood.

Wernberg reminded homeowners that if they incurred flood damage to their homes to make sure that they register with FEMA by calling toll-free 1-800-621-FEMA.

The Bemidji City Council recently committed $9,000 for preliminary work to could help solve flooding problems in the neighborhood, caused by spring snowmelt runoff.

The study will hopefully identify several options to mitigate flooding, but none are expected to be cheap.

The FEMA amendment comes to its federal disaster declaration issued originally by President Barack Obama on April 9 for the state of Minnesota in response to severe storms and flooding that occurred March 16 and continuing, FEMA said.

Beltrami County was earlier declared eligible for public assistance, meaning flood aid to state and local governments and certain private, non-profit organizations for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities.

Wednesday's amendment adds the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians as eligible for public assistance, FEMA said.