Albert Lea Tribune Staff
U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith announced funding Tuesday for rural Minnesota communities affected by natural disasters this past spring.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is making $150 million in grants available through the Community Facilities Program to help rural communities continue recovery from the effects of natural disasters, according to a press release. Examples of essential community facilities include hospitals, nursing homes, courthouses, street improvements, child care centers, police stations, fire departments, libraries and food banks, among others.
“Severe weather has affected towns and businesses across our state,” Klobuchar said. “These grants will help provide the resources necessary to recover. We can’t prevent natural disasters, but we can ensure that when one strikes, those affected have access to the support they need.”
Klobuchar led a letter to President Donald Trump in May 2019 with the Minnesota delegation supporting a major disaster declaration for communities in Minnesota working to recover from historic winter snowfall, widespread flooding and spring blizzards. In total, flooding and ice storms affected at least 51 Minnesota counties and four tribal nations.
The declaration was approved in June 2019 and covered the following counties and tribal areas: Big Stone, Blue Earth, Brown, Chippewa, Clay, Cottonwood, Dodge, Faribault, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Grant, Houston, Jackson, Kittson, Lac Qui Parle, Le Sueur, Lincoln, Lyon, Mahnomen, Marshall, Martin, McLeod, Mower, Murray, Nicollet, Nobles, Norman, Olmsted, Pennington, Pipestone, Polk, Ramsey, Red Lake, Redwood, Renville, Rock, Roseau, Scott, Sibley, Steele, Stevens, Swift, Traverse, Wabasha, Waseca, Washington, Watonwan, Wilkin, Winona, and Yellow Medicine Counties and the Prairie Island Indian Community, Red Lake Band of Chippewa, Upper Sioux Community and the White Earth Nation.
The $150 million is included in the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act that President Trump signed into law on June 6. The grants may be used for relief in natural disasters areas where the Federal Emergency Management Agency has provided a notice declaring a major disaster declaration and assigned a FEMA disaster recovery number.
Grant applications will be accepted at USDA state offices on a continual basis until funds are exhausted. Grant assistance will be provided on a graduated scale; smaller communities with the lowest median household income are eligible for a higher proportion of grant funds.
More than 100 types of projects are eligible for funding. Eligible applicants include municipalities, public bodies, nonprofit organizations and federally recognized Native American tribes. Projects must be in eligible rural areas with a population of 20,000 or less.