County seeks FEMA funds for ice storm
Jane Howard, Cook County News Herald
After being told by Emergency Management Director Jim Wiinanen a week before that the county was unlikely to qualify for FEMA disaster funds after the March ice storm, the county board learned on Tuesday, April 28, 2009 that it would qualify if an extra $20,000 was spent to hire outside contractors to repair damaged roads.
Wiinanen thought at first that Cook County could not qualify for disaster funds unless it included costs incurred by Arrowhead Electric Cooperative, which declined the option of being included in the application.
Cook County roads suffered damages that would cost about $15,000 for the county crew to repair on its own. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) trails incurred another $15,000 in damages. The City of Grand Marais had negligible damages, Wiinanen said, and West End townships had not reported damages.
Wiinanen reported previously that Arrowhead Electric Cooperative spent about $78,000 to repair electric lines throughout the county. He credited the cooperative with preventing further damage by having its lines clear when the storm hit.
Arrowhead Electric Director Don Stead was contacted regarding the cooperative’s decision not to apply for FEMA funding. “Why would we turn down free money?” Stead said. The storm did not rise to the level of a disaster, he said. “Nothing big happened to us.”
Having public money available does not mean they should use it, said Stead. A lot of “little outages” took place around the county, he said, and they were fixed within three days.
Stead pointed out that Arrowhead Electric supplied Lake County, which was much harder hit, with a crew. Some of Arrowhead Electric’s Cook County costs will be offset by the payment they receive from Lake County.
“We view it as the right road to take,” Stead said.