Carlton County continues massive flood relief effortMore than 1,000 homes in Carlton County reported damage after the June floods, which destroyed more than $20 million in assessed value on those homes. While hundreds of those homes have been repaired and back to some sense of normalcy, there are dozens of homes either completely destroyed or uninhabitable without additional major repairs and hundreds more homes awaiting long-term reconstruction.
By: Drew Digby, Pine Journal
More than 1,000 homes in Carlton County reported damage after the June floods, which destroyed more than $20 million in assessed value on those homes. While hundreds of those homes have been repaired and back to some sense of normalcy, there are dozens of homes either completely destroyed or uninhabitable without additional major repairs and hundreds more homes awaiting long-term reconstruction.
Carlton County is actively working with both a regional Long Term Recovery Committee and a Carlton County Long Term Recovery Committee, as well as a team of disaster case managers employed by Lutheran Social Services. The disaster recovery team, working as part of the Flood Homes With Hope campaign, has two offices in Carlton County – in Moose Lake and Cloquet – and seven employees working mostly within the county.
Most people in Carlton County have tried to use their own resources to repair and recover from the incredible damage wrought by the June storm, but as winter began, many found themselves with substantial repairs still to complete. The county hired a temporary employee who, working with Lutheran Social Services staff and county staff among others, conducted a major outreach effort to offer support services and help from disaster case managers. In more than a dozen cases, the disaster case managers helped homeowners repair or replace heating systems damaged by the flood that were making staying in their homes dangerous.
The disaster case managers have more than 400 active cases in Carlton County and they are helping to design long-term recovery plans.
Many have used federal disaster loans made available through the Small Business Administration. So far, 91 Carlton County residents have had these loans approved for a total of just under $2.4 million (the average loan has been for $26,285). The loans have interest rates as low as 1.9 percent.
Right now, the recovery effort is focused on two things. The first is the upcoming Jan. 31 deadline for state assistance for homeowners, known as Quick Start loans. The loans are for up to $40,000 and are no-payment, forgivable loans that can pay for flood-damage repairs to real property (even for repairs already made, as long as documentation is available). The loans need to be repaid if the property is sold within 10 years, but otherwise they are completely forgiven at the end of that period.
The second immediate goal is to help any resident currently dealing with flood-related hardships make plans for the long run. Some who are not eligible for the loans might need to have reconstruction help when spring comes. Others have other needs.
The Long Term Recovery Committee also has an Unmet Needs Committees that can make small grants to pay for repair work or immediate needs not covered by other programs. Currently the Regional Flood Fund is working through the United Way of Carlton County to disperse money within the county. The Long Term Recovery Committee has also worked with a variety of other partners including the Catholic Diocese of Duluth and the Northeastern Minnesota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, as well as individual churches and other organizations.
The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa have also been partners in the recovery, helping dozens of band members and residents on tribal land in their own recovery.
The county has actively pursued other assistance from the state and federal government, including a $125,000 grant for mental health services for people affected by the flooding. County public health workers, in conjunction with Lutheran Social Services, have a variety of events planned to help residents cope with the stress of the flooding and rebuilding. The county also is helping individuals who need assistance get connecting with mental health care.
Anyone needing assistance can contact the Flood Homes With Hope campaign, including the Disaster Case Managers, by calling 218-499-9480.
Drew Digby is the Special Projects and Long Term Recovery Manager for Carlton County.