Flood recovery struggle continues
Bureaucracy, red tape, and lack of staff for processing paperwork are big issues for flood recovery Drew Digby, Long Term Recovery Manager for the Carlton County flood area, explained at a February 25 Carlton County Board meeting presentation. Missed deadlines and slow reimbursement from Minnesota Housing have slowed money going for more housing rehabilitation.
Complicating this process, all reimbursements for flood damage must be funneled through United Way. There are more than 200 active homeowner cases in Carlton County. Minnesota Housing contracted with Lutheran Social Services to hire and support the boots on the ground direct case managers. Two case managers work the Cloquet area and two Moose Lake.
The need for case managers to help fill out the necessary forms has been heavy in this area. Normally, the administrator assigned to the disaster area by Minnesota Housing provides an office and on the ground office hours to help victims. In this case, Lakes and Pines Community Action Council based out of Mora has refused to fill that role where flood survivors live. They simply pass out paperwork. A slow flood response in the Pine County area has resulted from this decision.
Carlton County's cost of Digby's position has not been reimbursed from state flood funding. Digby commented, "We expect to hear within two months." The county's request for reimbursement for his position sits at $106,346.30. Current federal and state funding addresses only flood damages to local resident homes. Help for people with second homes and multi-family apartment complexes are not eligible. This continues as a major concern.
With other deadlines now passed, emphasis is shifting to charitable fundraising. "$2.1 million has been committed to the individual and family recovery in the region," said Digby. "We need another $560,000 to $600,000 for the next six months in addition to a $250,000 matching grant from the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation ... but we need everyone's help."
A bright spot in the response to the Flash Flood of 2012, in Moose Lake alone, volunteers logged 20,000 hours protecting the community and beginning the repair process in the initial first weeks.
In other board action, the county board approved a $3,000 subsidy for five city or township recycling sheds being run in the county. Barnum, Carlton, Moose Lake, Perch Lake Township, and Thomson Township will each receive $3,000 with an overall combined budget for 2013 of $40,102. The Solid Waster and Recycling Advisory Committee has historically recommended that subsidy amount. This pays for staff time at each of those sheds during set hours.
In the past few years, a coupon has been sent to residents to use to dispose of one used appliance from their home or business. This program will end on March 31, the last day the current coupon can be used to recycle an appliance. Central Scrap Metal has agreed to a one year contract where there will be no cost for them to recycle an appliance and therefore residential or commercial appliances will not have a tipping fee charged at delivery.