State asks feds to check wind damage

Minnesota officials want the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assess damage from early-July northern Minnesota wind storms, a major step in seeking federal recovery funds.

Preliminary damage assessments from state, local and tribal officials show at least $7.1 million damage, the threshold to receive federal aid. Much of the cost is for debris removal in Beltrami and Itasca counties, the two hardest hit in the July 2-4 storms.

The Department of Natural Resources alone estimates it sustained $865,000 in damage.

The storms especially damaged trees. State officials say that the federal government could pay for debris removal, but replacing the trees would not be covered.

Federal funds also could pay for items such as overtime paid to emergency responders.

This request is separate from one made last month that resulted in 13 counties in the northeast and southeast being declared disaster areas. Federal disasters are divided based on storm systems.

Director Kris Eide of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management requested preliminary damage assessments in Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater, Hubbard and Itasca counties and the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa and the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe.

The request only applies to government costs, not private property damage.

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