Governor Tim Walz announced a state funding proposal of $30 million to replenish the Disaster Assistance Contingency Account, which provides emergency assistance to communities across Minnesota following natural disasters.
The Disaster Assistance Contingency Account, signed into law in 2014, speeds up the recovery process for communities burdened with damages to public property and infrastructure like roads, utilities, and public buildings. Prior to the passage of the law, the Legislature was required to convene each time a disaster was declared in order to appropriate state money toward community recovery efforts.
“In Minnesota, we come together to help each other when our communities are hit by devasting natural disasters,” said Governor Walz. “Unfortunately, the cost and frequency of natural disasters in our state is rising. That’s why I’ve asked our Legislature to build our state’s savings account to assist communities in times of need. We cannot afford to be unprepared.”
“The demand for disaster emergency assistance funds this spring could be great, with meteorologists and emergency management experts seeing the potential for severe weather and flooding across Minnesota,” said Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington. “The Governor’s funding request will ensure that communities are able to quickly begin the recovery process with the state as a reliable partner.”
In his announcement today, Governor Walz was joined by Garry Johanson, Director of Norman County Emergency Management. “Norman County has been hit hard by flooding, storms, and ice damage in recent years,” said Johanson. “Recovering from these disasters tests the strength and resilience of our communities, and we count on state funding to help us through those moments.”
The account also provides the required 25% share of state funding when the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) declares a federal emergency. Last session, the Minnesota Legislature funded the Disaster Assistance Contingency Account with enough dollars to account for the state’s share of FEMA’s spring 2019 flooding assessments, as well as additional state-declared emergencies. However, in January of 2020, Minnesota was informed that FEMA severely underestimated the cost of recovery and nearly doubled their assessment.
As such, the Disaster Assistance Contingency Account will soon be depleted.
On January 23, 2020, Governor Walz sent a letter to FEMA, urging the agency to provide financial assistance to the Minnesota to account for its errors in assessing spring flooding damage. Read Governor Walz’s letter here.