Havre Daily News - News you can use

By Tim Leeds 

Meeting set to start flood disaster work

 


The state Disaster and Emergency Services has set regional meetings to start the next phase of disaster recovery from this year's flooding, including one Tuesday for the central Hi-Line.

Joe Parenteau, Hill County Disaster and Emergency Services coordinator, said the meeting will be for public entities — city, county and tribal governments — and qualified nonprofits such as eligible cooperatives in the region.

The state has started its meetings in regions to outline how public and nonprofit entities apply for assistance. The first was held Thursday in Billings, with the next scheduled for Monday in Lewistown.

After the Havre meeting, DES also will hold sessions in Glasgow and Miles City and at the Crow Indian Reservation later in the week.

At the meeting, entities who may be eligible for federal assistance are asked to register with the DES and will be shown the procedures for applying for the assistance.

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said in a press release that his staff will attend all meetings and be on hand to help answer questions.

Parenteau said Tuesday's meeting will not address individual assistance, but only deal with public infrastructure.

State DES is gathering information about damages to private residences and businesses to see if the state could qualify for individual assistance from the federal government, as well as the public assistance.

Parenteau said he has received some damage assessments from private property owners, and urged everyone in Hill County who had water damage too pick up an application — also available online at wwww.dma.mt.gov/des/estdamages.asp — and return them to him at his office with the Hill County Health Department at the Hill County Courthouse Annex.

Other counties with a disaster declaration, including Blaine and Chouteau, also are collecting private property damage assessments.

Parenteau said it's crucial for anyone who suffered water damage to fill out one of the assessments. The individual local regions probably have not had enough damage to qualify, but as a state, there may be enough damage to receive assistance, he said.

Sen. Max Baucus announced Wednesday that additional assistance could be available to people who have been forced from their homes by the flood disaster.

He said he has called on the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to set processes in place to coordinate with each other and with the USDA's Montana office of Rural Development to coordinate efforts to match flood victims with available housing and help get them into that housing.

"We're all in this together, and recovery is going to take teamwork at every level," Baucus said in a press release. "I'm going to keep looking for every opportunity to make sure our federal partners are on the ball."

Matt Jones, state director of Montana Rural Development, said his agency has about 150 rental units across the state that could be used for housing and that the agency could give priority to and waive certain regulations for families displaced by flooding. His agency also is trying to make certain people know about Rural Development's 1 percent loans to repair homes for very low income families.

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