Rosen bill would help Rapidan reimburse FEMA for disputed disaster cleanup costs

A bill from Sen. Julie Rosen would spare Rapidan Township from being forced to reimburse the Federal Emergency Management Agency for disputed disaster relief funds stemming from a Presidential Disaster Declaration in 2011.

Senate File 843, authored by Sen. Julie Rosen (R-Vernon Center), would authorize $340,000 in 2019 for distribution to Rapidan Township to allow them to reimburse FEMA for the costs associated with a road project that took place during disaster recovery following severe weather that led to the disaster declaration.

“Rapidan Township, the engineers, and everyone involved in this project did everything right,” said Sen. Rosen. “They adhered to project guidelines and played by the rules only to have FEMA pull a fast one. One thing we are good at in Minnesota is helping out our neighbors, and that is what this is all about – helping Rapidan get out of a situation they are in through no fault of their own.”

President Obama issued Presidential Disaster Declaration DR-1941 after severe storms hit southern Minnesota in September and October of 2010. As part of that declaration, FEMA approved a project to relocate a road in Rapidan Township and provided advanced funding of $238,000. FEMA made additional demands on the project due a sensitive archaeological site in the area. Rapidan and the civil engineers involved met those demands and strictly followed project guidelines, but after the project was completed FEMA ruled that the project had encroached on the archaeological area using data from Google Maps. After refusing multiple appeals, FEMA demanded Rapidan return the disaster funding.

Rapidan Township will no longer be eligible for assistance in future disasters if they do not reimburse FEMA.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill on April 2 and referred it to the Senate Finance Committee, where it awaits a second hearing.

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