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Northeast Minnesota Seeking Federal Aid for Cleanup
By Leif Enger
July 15, 1999
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The National Forest Service has announced it will allow chainsaw use in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness water through the end of next year to clear damage from the July 4th storm. Normally only handsaws are allowed in the area, but the Forest Service is changing the rules in part for safety reasons.

Meanwhile, Federal Emergency Management teams fanned out across the northeastern Minnesota gathering information to build a case for federal aid to communities the area.

Frequently Asked Questions About Disaster Recovery
What if my home was destroyed? FEMA can provide disaster housing assistance to those whose homes are damaged or destroyed. To apply for assistance, all you have to do is call the special toll free telephone number, 1-800-462-9029 (TTY: 1-800-462-7585) and register. Specially trained operators at one of FEMA's National Processing Service Centers will process your application.

What if I don't have enough insurance?
You may qualify for grants from FEMA, low-interest loans from theSmall Business Administration or the Farm Service Agency (FSA) , or you may qualify for tax refunds for items that were not covered by insurance. For federal tax information, contact the Internal Revenue Service at 1-800-829-1040 (TTY: 1-800-822-6268) for assistance. Information on tax assistance, grants and loans can be obtained at a Disaster Recovery Center(DRC) that may be set up after the President declares a major disaster. You can also call 1-800-462-9029 (TTY: 1-800-462-7585) to register for assistance over the phone.

What if I lost my business or farm? Business and farm loans are available to people who have suffered damage to business property or economic injury. These low-interest loans are available through the Small Business Administration and the Farm Service Agency (FSA), to repair or replace damaged property not covered by insurance, and to provide working capital. You can obtain information at the Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) that may be set up after the President declares a major disaster. You can also call 1-800-462-9029 (TTY: 1-800-462-7585) for information. You can visit the County FSA office or one of the SBA workshops set up in disaster areas.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Extension Service provides information and materials to farmers, ranchers, and others on what they can do to protect themselves and their property against the hazards associated with disasters. Information is available on such topics as: cleanup of damaged property, sanitation precautions, insect control, food preparation in an emergency, recovery actions on damaged farms, and renovations of damaged equipment and property.
Source: Federal Emergency Management Agency
FEMA OFFICIALS SAY damage to homes is often hardest to see. Unlike millions of trees in a wilderness area, it's invisible from the area. Sometimes it's nearly invisible even from the ground.

Investigator Robert Bedosky circles a yellow, two-story house on a maple-shaded street in Virginia seeking clues.
Bedosky: You can see where the water has dropped her foundation. You can look straight ahead and see where it's dropped a good inch and a half. That corner, yes, that could be very serious. And if you notice that wall bowing inward? The ground is pushing that foundation inward.
Bedosky is on one of 10 crews now canvassing most of northeastern Minnesota. Three of the crews are investigating private-property damages, seven are investigating public-property damage - roads and bridges.

They're working from list and tips compiled by local governments and the Red Cross. Here in Virginia, you can tell whose basements got filled by who gets a visit from the Sears truck, driven today by "Fred".
Fred: A lot of basement things like water heaters, sump pumps, Shop-Vacs - anything to get their basement dry.
Fred is bringing Mildred Anderson a new washer. Mildred had a nice basement; cedar tongue-in-groove panelling, comfortable furniture.
Anderson: We had about 12 to 14 inches of dirty sewer water in our basement. That dark icky brown kind.
Many of the homes on Mildred's street had similar damage. Their owners hope there will be a presidential disaster declaration to help them cover expenses. But that's far from certain.

Virginia was also hit hard downtown. All three of the districts school buildings sustained serious water damage, and several businesses had to shut down.

Ceiling fans run full speed in the basement of Rocco's Italian Restaurant. This was the formal dining area, now a soggy dungeon of tipped-over furniture, shocked fichus trees, and , climbing around its golden cage a green parrot with an ill-timed laugh.

Rocco's owner, Doug Fosche, estimates damage at $50,000.
Fosche: We're opening part way Friday, and then hopefully in about three weeks, we'll be open full.
How much business he will have lost by then - three weeks closed at the height of summer - Fosche hasn't begun to figure out.

The FEMA crews hope to finish surveying storm damage by the end of Thursday and to report their findings to Governor Ventura by Monday. Should President Clinton decide not to declare a disaster area, an investigator for the Small Business Administration says there's more-than-enough damage for the SBA to offer low interest loans.