Flood victims have another chanceState officials gave Northlanders impacted by this summer’s flooding an unexpected early Christmas present Friday, when the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency extended the deadline to apply for assistance under the Quick Start Disaster Recovery Program to Jan. 31.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
State officials gave Northlanders impacted by this summer’s flooding an unexpected early Christmas present Friday, when the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency extended the deadline to apply for assistance under the Quick Start Disaster Recovery Program to Jan. 31.
The Quick Start program provides a no-interest loan of up to $40,000 for home repair as a result of the June flash floods – money that is forgiven if the owner remains in the home for 10 years.
“We are here for one reason only,” said Mary Tingerthal, Commissioner of Minnesota Housing and one of three state commissioners who traveled to Carlton to discuss the Quick Start deadline extension. “We know there are homeowners who did sustain damage to their homes and who have not stepped forward for help. This is a part of the state where you are very proud of your ability to be independent and really do things for yourselves and I think that’s great. But in this case, if there’s something that maybe didn’t show up right away or maybe you have a basement that’s crumbling or you’re worried about something that showed up only after the frost came in, it’s really important that you call one of our administrators.”
Minnesota Housing has contracted with local administrators to work with residents to complete the Quick Start applications, which are simplified applications “with no fine print” promised Tingerthal.
Local administrators follow:
+ If you live in Duluth, contact One Roof Community Housing, 12 East Fourth Street, Duluth. Phone 218-727-5372, extension 200.
+ If you live in Aitkin, Carlton, Crow Wing or Pine counties or on the Fond du Lac and Grand Portage Bands of Lake Superior Chippewa and Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe reservations in those counties, contact Lakes and Pines Community Action Council, 1700 Maple Street East, Mora, Minn. Phone 800-832-6082 or 320-679-1800, extension 119.
+ If you live in Cook, Lake, St. Louis, Itasca or Cass counties or on the Fond du Lac and Grand Portage Bands of Lake Superior Chippewa and Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe reservations in those counties, contact Arrowhead Economic Development Agency, 702 South Third Avenue, Virginia, Minn. Phone 800-662-5711, extension 288 or 218-749-2912, extension 288.
“Don’t be afraid to call if you didn’t apply for a SBA [Small Business Administration) loan or if you’re scared of debt,” Tingerthal said. “These are forgivable loans. You don’t have to worry you won’t be able to repay it.”
Tingerthal also encouraged people to help family, friends and neighbors who may have slipped through the cracks in the six months since the flooding.
“Maybe you’re worried about a neighbor or you’re in town visiting a relative for the holidays,” she said. “If they’re too proud to pick up the phone, you can help. I can’t urge you enough. It’s time to take action.”
The Minnesota Housing Finance Agency reported that, as of last week, only 234 households of the 2,000 homes significantly damaged by the June flood in Northeastern Minnesota were slated to receive state or federal financial assistance.
When Tingerthal announced the extension (which follows a previous application deadline extension of Jan. 4), the 20-some public officials and flood volunteers broke out in applause.
“That’s huge,” said Pastor Mike Stevens of Cloquet, who volunteered full-time in the weeks immediately following the flood helping people get their homes repaired. Stevens remains involved and now serves on the flood recovery committee for Carlton County.
Duluth Mayor Don Ness called the Quick Start extension a “great example of government focusing on the needs of the people and changing on the fly.”
The flash floods that hit the northern part of the state came after 10 inches of rain fell over two days in mid-June. It washed out roads, overwhelmed storm drainage systems and killed 11 animals in the barnyard exhibit at the Duluth Zoo. Public infrastructure damage measured in the tens of millions.
Some 1,700 homes sustained damage and few homeowners had flood insurance. Of 1,100 homes included in a week-long damage assessment by teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Homeland Security Emergency Management teams, 17 were destroyed, 154 had major damage, 419 had minor damage and 479 were affected, according to a press release from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.