Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and Representative Tim Walz today announced that the White House has approved federal assistance for southwest Minnesota communities impacted by the recent winter storm that caused extensive damage to homes, businesses and public infrastructure in the region.  The announcement comes after the members urged the Administration to issue a disaster declaration in a letter last month.

“I saw firsthand the damage caused by this storm just days after the event,” Klobuchar said. “This support will go a long way to helping the region recover, and I will continue to work with state and local officials to help ensure all the affected communities have the resources and support they need to rebuild.” 

“During my visit to the communities affected by the storm, it was clear that they were going to need significant help to repair and replace infrastructure damaged by the storm. I’m relieved it’s on the way,”Franken said. “I’m thankful the administration listened to our concerns and granted the disaster declaration for public assistance.  My office will continue to work with local officials throughout the recovery process.”

“This is how our democracy is supposed to work—to act swiftly and help communities in times of need,” Walz said.“This support will help folks in Southwest Minnesota get back on their feet. I will continue working with local and state officials and federal agencies to ensure folks on the ground are getting the help they need.”

The declaration designates Cottonwood, Jackson, Murray, Nobles and Rock counties as federal disaster areas and authorizes the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to release funds for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities. The Public Assistance designation makes public entities eligible for assistance to repair roads, bridges, water facilities, and parks that were damaged by the disaster. Preliminary damage assessments revealed more than $26 million in costs and damages. Additional disaster designations may be made at a later date.

Earlier this month Klobuchar, Franken and Walz were in the region to survey the storm damage and meet with Governor Dayton, legislators and local officials to discuss ways to help the region recover. Last week Klobuchar, Franken and Walz wrote a letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator, Craig Fugate, calling on FEMA to coordinate with state and local officials to expedite recovery efforts in southwest Minnesota and requesting that FEMA staff work with local communities on the ground as they work to recover.