ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Homeland Security and Emergency Management division (DPS-HSEM) has requested the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to conduct Preliminary Damage Assessments (PDA) in 10 Minnesota counties.
Heavy rain on September 21 and 22 led to widespread flooding which resulted in an estimated $13 million in damages to public infrastructure such as roads, bridges, schools and community parks, as reported by local emergency managers. The federal population-based threshold set by FEMA to request assistance is $7.4 million.
Governor Mark Dayton declared a Peacetime State of Emergency last week and the State Emergency Operations Center has been partially activated to work with local officials since the rains began.
“This is, by far, our largest severe weather incident of the summer, with damage estimates exceeding the previous eight disasters combined,” HSEM Director Joe Kelly said. “Our HSEM teams will be working with FEMA to assess damages sustained in this widespread flooding.”
The PDA visits will be scheduled in the coming week and will include a team of state and FEMA officials. Tours of the following impacted counties will review the scope of the damage, determine if it exceeds local and state resources, and include repair cost estimates.
- Blue Earth
- Le Sueur
Additional counties may be added to this list as local emergency managers report their Initial Damage Assessments to HSEM.
The preliminary damage assessment is the first step in determining if Governor Mark Dayton will be able to make a request for a presidential declaration of disaster:
1. Local officials conduct an initial impact assessment.
Local officials to identify facilities impacted, damage, impacts to the communities and their demographics.
2. HSEM requests FEMA to conduct a preliminary damage assessment.
Teams from the affected county, HSEM and FEMA conduct the assessment. They view the damage and collect the cost estimates from county officials. The teams review local emergency response records, American Red Cross records if individual homes are involved in the assessment, and compile figures for all affected counties. If the damage exceeds the federally determined damage threshold of $7.4 million statewide, the process continues.
3. HSEM prepares the governor’s request for a disaster declaration.
This letter details the event and cites National Weather Service data. It must document factors that determine severity, magnitude and impact. It also documents what local officials did to respond to the emergency.
Local input regarding impact to the community is gathered and incorporated in the letter. This includes the amount and type of damage, impact on infrastructure, impact on essential services, concentration of damage, level of insurance coverage, assistance available from other sources, and if there is an imminent threat to public health and safety.
4. Governor submits the letter to the president through FEMA.
FEMA reviews and sends the letter, with its recommendation to the president.
The president is the only one with authority to grant a Presidential Disaster Declaration. If assistance programs are approved, HSEM officials work in partnership with FEMA to assistance disaster victims in their application for funds.
About the Minnesota Department Public Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) comprises 11 divisions where 2,100 employees operate programs in the areas of law enforcement, crime victim assistance, traffic safety, alcohol and gambling, emergency communications, fire safety, pipeline safety, driver licensing, vehicle registration and emergency management. DPS activity is anchored by three core principles: education, enforcement and prevention.
About the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management
Homeland Security and Emergency Management helps Minnesotans prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies and disasters.