Flood relief requests $40 million over allocation

By John Weiss

WINONA — Leaders in flood-ravaged towns and rural areas say they need $205 million from the state to help them recover.

The Minnesota Legislature allocated $165 million.

Something has to give.


Kevin Kelleher, the state’s point man on flood relief, said some of the gap between requests and allocated dollars will disappear when the final numbers are in; he’s told cities and individuals to estimate high and they can always get less. When the final numbers are known "that should go down significantly," he said.

Some of the $40 million can be made up with loans or grants from other state or federal agencies. Which agency will pay for what, and who pays first, is quite complicated, he said. But in the end, "I think it might be a little short," he said Friday at a Minnesota Flood Recovery Summit in Winona.

Deciding who gets grants or loans, and who doesn’t "is the difficult part," he said. A task force he heads will prioritize requests and go from there, said Kelleher, who works for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. So the first thing that is needed is accurate numbers for needs.

"We want to make sure it’s fairly distributed," he said. "This is not just about one community."

The gap is not unusual, he said. "That is what happened in every disaster that has ever taken place," Kelleher said.

The $165 million is the most the state has ever distributed for a disaster. If the Legislature decides that more is needed, it can allocate that in a future session, Kelleher said.

For him, the bottom line is that, while the state can’t do everything for everyone, it’s going to do a lot. "It’s a record amount of money for a disaster, a record amount of that money will be distributed in forgivable grants and loans," he said.

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