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FEMA Denies Individual Aid To Mpls. Tornado Victims

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — The federal government has denied Minnesota’s request for disaster assistance for homeowners, renters and businesses hit by last month’s deadly tornado in Minneapolis.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency sent a letter Tuesday to Gov. Mark Dayton, denying the request. FEMA says the tornado damage is not beyond the combined capabilities of the state, affected local governments and voluntary agencies.

FEMA Public Affairs Spokesperson Richard Gifford told WCCO-TV on Tuesday the agency considers a range of factors when determining a need for individual assistance. Those factors are from damage to individuals, to injuries, disruption of services, availability of insurance and if the local volunteer force can help meet the need of the victims.

Word had already reached neighbors still cleaning up their yards Tuesday night, in the middle of heavy rain. Carl West said volunteers haven’t yet reached his block of Willow Street.

“It’s wet, it’s cold, rain sleet or snow, it has to be done,” said West, who declared himself one of the lucky ones with garage damage and a home still standing.

“We got it bad, but it ain’t the worst, there is people that can’t walk out their front door. I would say think about people in need that don’t have roofs over their heads, I know those top officials have one over theirs,” said West.

The state has 30 days to appeal the decision. The Governor’s Spokeswoman, Katharine Tinucci, told WCCO-TV that Governor Dayton is considering all options right now.

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said while he’s disappointed in FEMA’s denial for individual help, he’s been invited to the White House on Monday to explore all options for federal assistance for north Minneapolis.

Last week, President Barack Obama declared Anoka and Hennepin counties disaster areas following the May 22 tornado. That declaration will send money to state and local governments, and some non-profit organizations, for repairs to facilities damaged by the storm.

Preliminary assessments put the damage to public infrastructure at $16.3 million.

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