Walker Seeks Federal Flood Disaster Aid

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Governor Walker has asked President Obama to declare far northwestern Wisconsin a federal disaster. Damage assessment from last month’s flooding narrowly pushed the area over the threshold to qualify for federal help.

Walker also is asking the Small Business Administration for a disaster designation for Douglas County. If approved, that would qualify homes and businesses damaged by the flood for low interest loans for repairs.

Federal Emergency Management Agency and state Emergency Management officials put the damage to public infrastructure at $8.6 million in Douglas, Bayfield, and Ashland Counties and at the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa reservation. That was $900,000 more than the minimum needed to ask for federal help.

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Tod Pritchard with Wisconsin Emergency Management says it was iffy for awhile but now they can move forward, “Great news. We’re hoping that this gets approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and we get some help as soon as we can.”

A disaster declaration would mean help for communities with little or no resources left to put back the pieces of the June 20 flood. Douglas County Administrator Andy Lisak says if it’s approved, FEMA will cover 75% of the damages, the state 12.5% and local governments 12.5%, “Oh, it’s a break for all of us, potentially a break. I’d rather try to cover 12 and a half percent than 100%.”

This area has had to deal with smaller floods and a major wind storm. Douglas County Emergency Management Director Keith Kesler says it’s overwhelming for these rural towns, “They’re looking at what we can do without, what we can postpone. The problem with the storms we’ve had over the last few years, a lot of things have been postponed. You can only defer maintenance so long before it comes up and gets you in the back. So people are really concerned and they’re very, very hopeful this funding will come through.”

Pritchard expects a decision by President Obama in just a matter of days.

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