Disaster-recovery grants awarded in areas hit by flood

From staff reports

Nearly $563,000 in recovery grants have been approved for flood victims in the five southern Minnesota counties designated earlier this month as federal disaster areas.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency reported Wednesday that 471 people from the counties had called the agency's toll-free phone number to apply for disaster assistance. More than $562,698 in disaster-recovery grants have been approved, according to FEMA.

President Bush declared five counties disaster areas on Oct. 7, making federal funding available to affected individuals and businesses in Dodge, Faribault, Freeborn, Mower and Steele counties. Torrential rains on Sept. 14 led to flooding that caused severe damage in the region.

Austin suffered its worst flood in history when the Cedar River crested at 25 feet on Sept. 15. Turtle and Dobbins creeks also heavily flooded in the city. A preliminary estimate found nearly $12 million of damage in Austin.


A disaster-recovery center was expected to open today at St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 2100 16th St. S.W., in Austin. The center will provide a single location where people can speak in person with recovery specialists.

The recovery center will be open until further notice from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. The center will also be open this Sunday (the only Sunday scheduled) from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

An Albert Lea-based center also was to open today at Health Reach, 1705 S. Broadway Ave. The operation hours are the same as the center in Austin. Information on additional centers will be forthcoming.

FEMA officials can be contacted at 1-800-621-3362 or 1-800-462-7585 for the hearing and speech impaired. The phone numbers will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week until further notice.

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