Flood relief letter to Gov. Pawlenty


(12/27/2007)

From: Sen. Sharon Erickson Ropes

I am being joined in sending this letter by Senator Steve Murphy, Representative Steve Drazkowksi and Representative Ken Tschumper. We are from the three hardest hit flood counties, and join together to implore you to intervene in the state relief process. The people of Southeastern Minnesota are slowly rebuilding to a new normal after the August devastation. We cannot understate the determination, gratitude and "Minnesota nice" of our communities. Yet, people are silently burning out and becoming very weary because the bulk of state aid has not even hit the ground yet. It has been four months.

Governor, you worked responsively with the Minnesota Legislature to quickly provide a $157 million relief package in mid-September. Shoveling in hot mud and August sweat, we would have never imagined that winter snows and Christmas lights would hit our districts before state relief checks! We are alarmed at how Minnesota's relief dollars are getting clogged up in state bureaucracy. Millions of relief dollars remain untouched in state accounts while our hometowns still face crushing needs.

It is true that some roads and bridges have been rebuilt, some businesses have open doors, and some residents will celebrate Christmas in restored homes. It is also true that

* hundreds of families are still waiting due to frustrating red tape

* gutted homes look like empty shells waiting for drywall, carpet and furnaces

* nearly 800 homeowners have been sidelined by restrictive housing programs

* many families face financing barriers that your departments have imposed

* stranded county boards are forced to take out multimillion dollar loans from local banks until government reimbursement arrive,

* state level coordination of long-term flood recovery is in chaos, and

* most of the flood checks have not reached our citizens after four months.

The state of Minnesota has flood money in the bank, Governor. Please call on your state departments to make haste. The commissioners are your handpicked experts, placed in charge of implementing this flood relief. Do they need additional caseworkers or more administrative assistance? Where are the bottlenecks holding up the flow of funds to the people? How can the legislators help? Would you use your leadership to quickly bring the Minnesota Quick Start program funds to all of the flood victims who suffered losses, as the Legislature intended?

Please hear us again this holiday season as we come together for our districts. We cannot understand why flood relief is taking so long Southeastern Minnesota is terribly concerned about the languishing gap between plump flood balances and hometown needs. As you unplug your family Christmas tree every night, Governor, please remember our neighbors' patience and stress. Unplug the clogged department pipes, strip off the red tape and deliver a flood relief package before the holidays are over. Thank you.

 

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