Klobuchar, Smith Announce Funding for Rural Minnesota Communities Affected by Natural Disasters

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN) announced funding for rural Minnesota communities affected by natural disasters. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is making $150 million in grants available through the Community Facilities Program to help rural communities continue their recovery from the devastating effects of natural disasters. Examples of essential community facilities include hospitals, nursing homes, courthouses, street improvements, child care centers, police stations, fire departments, libraries, and food banks, among others.

“Severe weather has affected towns and businesses across our state,” Klobuchar said. “These grants will help provide the resources necessary to recover. We can’t prevent natural disasters, but we can ensure that when one strikes, those affected have access to the support they need.”

“I’m inspired by the spirit, resilience and ingenuity of people I’ve met in rural areas across Minnesota,” Smith said. “Many have come together to rebuild their communities after devastating natural disasters like extreme flooding. But there’s more work to be done, and I hope Minnesotans consider this opportunity to get help.”

Klobuchar led a letter to the President in May 2019 with the Minnesota delegation including Senator Smith and Representatives Hagedorn, Craig, Omar, Phillips, McCollum, Emmer, and Stauber supporting a Major Disaster Declaration for communities in Minnesota working to recover from historic winter snowfall, widespread flooding, and spring blizzards. In total, flooding and ice storms affected at least 51 Minnesota counties and four tribal nations in the spring of 2019. 

The declaration was approved in June 2019 and covered the following counties and tribal areas: Big Stone, Blue Earth, Brown, Chippewa, Clay, Cottonwood, Dodge, Faribault, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Grant, Houston, Jackson, Kittson, Lac Qui Parle, Le Sueur, Lincoln, Lyon, Mahnomen, Marshall, Martin, McLeod, Mower, Murray, Nicollet, Nobles, Norman, Olmsted, Pennington, Pipestone, Polk, Ramsey, Red Lake, Redwood, Renville, Rock, Roseau, Scott, Sibley, Steele, Stevens, Swift, Traverse, Wabasha, Waseca, Washington, Watonwan, Wilkin, Winona, and Yellow Medicine Counties and the Prairie Island Indian Community, Red Lake Band of Chippewa, Upper Sioux Community, and the White Earth Nation.

The $150 million is included in the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act that President Trump signed into law on June 6, 2019. The grants may be used for relief in natural disasters areas where the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has provided a notice declaring a Major Disaster Declaration and assigned a FEMA disaster recovery (DR) number. View the list of designated communities as of Sept. 8, 2019. Please check the FEMA website for regular updates and names of additional communities that may be added. Grant applications will be accepted at USDA state offices on a continual basis until funds are exhausted. Grant assistance will be provided on a graduated scale; smaller communities with the lowest median household income are eligible for a higher proportion of grant funds. For application details and additional information, see page 47477 of the Sept. 10 Federal Register. More than 100 types of projects are eligible for Community Facilities funding. Eligible applicants include municipalities, public bodies, nonprofit organizations and federally recognized Native American tribes. Projects must be in eligible rural areas with a population of 20,000 or less.

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.