ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) and FEMA will conduct damage assessments in counties affected by recent severe storms and flooding.
The preliminary damage assessments (PDAs) are for the federal Public Assistance (PA) program in areas impacted by severe storms and flooding, which began June 11. FEMA officials will partner with state and local officials to view damage in the affected areas. The assessments begin in counties where the water has receded the week of June 30. A full schedule will be released after a planning meeting between HSEM and FEMA.
The preliminary damage assessment is the first step in determining if Governor Mark Dayton will make a request for a presidential declaration of disaster. The program includes assistance to local communities for the cost of response and eligible repairs to public infrastructure.
If included in a Presidential Disaster Declaration, the PA program would provide:
• Assistance to state and local government and certain private not for profit organizations for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities. This applies within the counties in the disaster area.
• Assistance to state and local government and certain private not for profit organizations for actions taken to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life and property from natural hazards. All counties in the state of Minnesota are eligible to apply for assistance under this program.
Disaster Declaration Process
1. Local and state officials conduct an initial impact assessment.
This began last week when HSEM officials met with 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 $7.3 million statewide, the process continues.
3. HSEM prepares the governor’s request for a disaster declaration.
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.
4. 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.
5. 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.