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CLINTON ADMINISTRATION FREES FIRST DISASTER ASSISTANCE FOR UPPER MIDWEST, INCLUDING $50 MILLION FOR GRAND FORKSGRAND FORKS, ND -- Just three days after President Clinton signed long- awaited disaster relief legislation to aid victims of severe flooding in the Upper Midwest, the Clinton Administration today announced $50 million in expedited assistance to the city of Grand Forks, ND and $60 million more for communities in Minnesota, North and South Dakota.
Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo made the announcement in a news conference with Grand Forks Mayor Pat Owens and members of the Congressional delegations of the three states.
"Mayor Owens and all the citizens of Grand Forks and the other flood-ravaged communities in the Dakotas and Minnesota are anxious to begin the rebuilding process and the Clinton Administration is ready to help," Cuomo said. "Today we�re announcing a downpayment toward building better, stronger communities where the floodwaters wreaked devastation."
Cuomo said that the funding announced today represents an advance of emergency Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to Grand Forks and communities within the three states. The disaster bill signed by the President on Thursday night provides $500 million in CDBG funding for communities affected by the Upper Midwest flooding and other Presidentially-declared natural disasters since September 1, 1996. In addition to the $50 million being advanced for Grand Forks, $50 million is being provided for recovery in Minnesota communities including East Grand Forks, $5 million for other communities in North Dakota and $5 million for South Dakota communities.
The legislation specifies that these community development funds may be used only for long-term recovery efforts, property buyouts, relocation and efforts to prevent future flood damage. Communities have great flexibility in their use of funds for activities including rehabilitation of residential and commercial buildings; acquisition, construction or reconstruction of public facilities and improvements including streets, neighborhood centers, and water and sewer facilities; homeownership assistance, including downpayment assistance and interest rate subsidies; code enforcement; clearance and demolition; and assistance to businesses for the carrying out of economic development activities for job creation and retention.
U.S. Senator Kent Conrad (ND) said, "This is a downpayment on the commitment to help disaster victims recover and rebuild. This represents a great victory for the people who have suffered through so much. They should know there is more on the way."
U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan (ND) said, "I appreciate the sense of urgency the President and his Administration have about getting disaster aid to our state and our region. The fact that Secretary Cuomo, just three days after the President signed the disaster bill into law, is in his office on a Sunday working to deliver that aid, demonstrates, again, that the Administration -- from the President on down -- fully understands the need to act with dispatch. We're grateful for the help and for the speed with which the Administration is acting to provide it."
Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (SD) said, "During the worst part of the winter storm disaster and subsequent spring flooding, the Administration responded quickly with every available resource allowed during the disaster. Now, President Clinton and the members of his Administration are responding quickly again. These important resources will mean people can begin rebuilding their lives and communities can begin repairing the damage done during the winter and spring."
U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (SD) said, "I am very pleased that the Administration took only three days to get an initial allocation of aid to the disaster victims. This aid is only a downpayment of the help that is to come, but I am very happy that it is finally on its way."
U.S. Representative Earl Pomeroy (ND) said, "Within minutes of receiving the disaster bill, the President signed it. Now the Administration has worked all weekend in order to get relief funds on the way. The announcement of the initial disbursement by Secretary Cuomo will truly begin the rebuilding of Grand Forks."
U.S. Representative Collin Peterson (MN) said, "We are extremely pleased that there will be an initial allocation of assistance made this quickly. This will help us move our planning process faster and to keep the community together. This effort is much appreciated."
U.S. Representative David Minge (MN) said, "I am pleased that the President and Secretary Cuomo acted quickly to release the much needed CDBG funds. The flexibility provided by the CDBG will allow communities in Minnesota and the Dakotas the opportunity to move forward with their varied recovery initiatives."
U.S. Representative John Thune (SD) said, "With this announcement, HUD is following through on our commitment to provide timely assistance with less red- tape and more local control. This is how government is supposed to work."
The allocation of these federal funds is an important part of HUD's overall disaster relief effort, Cuomo said. In addition to the community development funds, Secretary Cuomo created an on-site Disaster Recovery Office in Grand Forks where HUD personnel from headquarters and the field have worked along side the staff of the city's Urban Development Department. The HUD effort has been led by Alvin Brown, Director of the Office of Special Actions and Jacquie Lawing, Acting Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development. Both senior officials have spent considerable time on the ground in Grand Forks and other affected communities. Today in Grand Forks, Brown presented disaster assistance checks to Mayor Owens and Senator Conrad.
At the request of local and state officials and the Congressional delegations, HUD has also brought in national experts in disaster recovery management, urban planning, finance and economic redevelopment to provide their skills and knowledge for the rebuilding effort.
In order to speed the recovery and ease personal and financial burdens for those living in flood-ravaged communities, Secretary Cuomo previously took action to give maximum flexibility to local recovery efforts by waiving rules for the use of annual CDBG and HOME program funds; to place a 180 day moratorium on foreclosure of FHA-insured mortgages; to make special mortgage insurance available, with up to 100 percent financing possible, for disaster victims repairing or replacing their homes; and to allow loan repayment forbearance by FHA and Ginnie Mae mortgagees.
Content Archived: January 20, 2009