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Northern Wisconsin Receives Federal Disaster Declaration

Efforts Underway To Assist Homeowners, Businesses

Bayfield County

Eight counties and one tribe in northern Wisconsin can now access federal money to help pay for an estimated $25 million in flood damage to roads and public infrastructure after the July 11 storm.

Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and Douglas, Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Florence, Sawyer and Washburn counties received the federal disaster declaration.

Bayfield County is one of the areas hit the hardest by the storm, and its county administrator, Mark Abeles-Allison, said the federal disaster declaration is good news for northern Wisconsin.

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About 87.5 percent of the expenses to repair roads, bridges and other public infrastructure will be covered by the public assistance, Abeles-Allison said.

The federal government will cover 75 percent, the state will cover 12.5 percent and the local government will cover the remaining 12.5 percent, he said.

Roads and highways are under repair and towns continue to clear trees from a wind storm that followed the flood, Abeles-Allison said.

“There’s been a tremendous amount of local effort—neighbor helping neighbor, town helping town—that’s really been heartwarming and is really important when disasters like this occur,” he said.

While federal funds have become available, the money won’t help homeowners and private businesses affected by flooding. Even so, state and local officials are seeking emergency funds in the form of community development block grants to help repair private residences, said Kim Gifford, housing specialist with the Northwest Regional Planning Commission. She said they’re asking low to moderate-income families to apply.

Gifford said people can still apply for zero percent interest, deferred payment loans for flood repairs.

The grants would pay to replace most losses to homes, Abeles-Allison said.

“For things such as home windows, roofing, siding, foundations, electrical, water heaters, furnaces,” he said.

Gifford said they’re submitting the application for emergency grants in September.

The Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation has also announced that the Otto Bremer Trust of St. Paul, Minnesota, will assist disaster victims. The trust has agreed to match up to $25,000 in donations to set up a fund to help residents in Ashland and Bayfield counties.

“People are still displaced from their homes,” said Meghan Dennison, the foundation’s regional affiliate officer in Bayfield. “There are still folks that have standing water in their basements, which is causing mold to grow. Children with asthma issues are having difficulty. There are still at least 50 or so people in the city of Ashland area that don’t have hot water heaters or furnaces that are working.”

Dennison said grants up to $5,000 will be available to local governments and nonprofits to assist with flood recovery.

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