Austin included in federal flood relief funds

Published 7:59 am Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed a bill Monday providing over $80 million in flood relief for areas including Austin affected by flooding in September, including Austin.

The bill is a result of the special legislative session held Monday for the purpose of appropriating funds for the 21 counties affected by flooding, as well as for areas affected by tornadoes earlier in the summer.

“I think things went very smoothly and efficiently and, thankfully, very well,” said Rep. Jeanne Poppe, DFL-Austin.

Email newsletter signup

Poppe said the bill included $10 million for the Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) program, which will aid with flood mitigation in and around Austin.

“One of the most important features (of the bill) was RIM dollars to be able to put money into some of the areas north of Austin to capture flood waters before they come into town,” Poppe said. “That’s going to be helpful.”

Damage estimates in the Austin area topped $250,000, but Poppe said that without past mitigation efforts the damage costs could have been in the millions.

“I would say we’d be able to receive the money to do the work with the recovery effort and with flood mitigation,” she said. “Both should be covered. Because of flood mitigation, we don’t have quite the need to replace homes and businesses.”

The bill provides $15 million for damaged state highway infrastructure and local roads and bridges, $14 million for the Department of Natural Resources for mitigation grants and clean-up, $12 million for state and local match for federal FEMA disaster assistance and $10 million for grant or loan programs for organizations directly affected by the disaster.

The bill also includes funding for agricultural clean-up grants, the clean-up of historical buildings and increased transportation costs for school districts.