Special Session yields disaster aid for Houston County

State Senator Jeremy Miller
District 28

The legislature met Sept. 9 in special session to appropriate $4.5 million in disaster relief to 18 counties that were affected by severe storms and flooding in June. This funding will be available for use in emergency work, including repair of damaged facilities, debris removal, and bridge and road repairs. The legislation reduces unused disaster relief appropriations made in 2012, resulting in a net fiscal cost of $0.

Southeastern Minnesota was hit especially hard, with Fillmore County reporting damages of $1.96 million and Houston County reporting $6.46 million, the most affected county in the state. I toured many of the affected areas in Fillmore and Houston counties shortly after the storms hit to see the damage firsthand. Our local officials did an incredible job of responding in a quick and efficient manner, and they should be commended for their good work.

I was pleased to co-author this bipartisan disaster relief legislation during the Special Session to provide much needed assistance as our local communities recover from these devastating storms.

Under Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) guidelines, the state of Minnesota must meet a minimum threshold of $7.266 million of uninsured statewide losses to qualify for federal aid. FEMA teams were brought in after the storms to conduct a preliminary damage assessment, in which they reviewed damage to infrastructure, critical facilities and the effect on individuals and businesses in impacted areas.

The total damage assessment was over $17.8 million, more than double the minimum statewide threshold of $7.266 million required to qualify for federal aid. Next, FEMA requires a 25 percent state/local match in order to receive the 75 percent federal disaster aid. Based on current law, this state/local match requires legislative approval.

As always, if you have any questions, comments or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 651-296-5649 or [email protected] It is an honor to serve as your state senator.