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Published August 12, 2009, 12:00 AM

North Dakota disaster aid applications top 7,000

More than 7,000 people in North Dakota have applied for federal disaster aid as they recover from months of flooding, a tornado and other severe weather, officials say.

By: By Dave Kolpack, Associated Press Writer, INFORUM

More than 7,000 people in North Dakota have applied for federal disaster aid as they recover from months of flooding, a tornado and other severe weather, officials say.

The deadline to apply for federal assistance was Monday, when 74 people registered, state Emergency Services Department spokeswoman Cecily Fong said Tuesday. Thirteen of those were from Stark County, where a July 8 tornado caused an estimated $20 million in damage but no serious injuries.

About 400 people affected by the tornado applied for individual assistance, said Shawn Kessel, Dickinson’s city administrator. “We had an amazing turnout of registrants,” he said.

Dickinson residents have other offers of help. They have until next Monday to apply for assistance with the private Resources Agencies Flood Team, which includes members of churches and community groups. Residents have until Aug. 26 to complete a housing needs survey with that group, Kessel said.

“I think if you were here a day or two after the disaster and you come now, you would be quite surprised at the level of progress,” Kessel said. “Certainly people still need some help, but as far as the cleanup goes, everybody pulled together and did an amazing job.”

The Monday deadline covered individual assistance to homeowners and to local governments for fixing roads or other infrastructure. State and local officials are seeking more money to buy out homes in flooded areas and are trying to speed up the process.

“A lot of this is driven by the federal government and with the buyouts and the mitigation, it moves at their pace,” said Scott Wagner, Cass County commissioner. “We would like to have answers quicker for people. But a lot of this is out of our hands.”

Fong said 1,068 of the 7,333 applications for disaster aid were in Cass County, which includes Fargo.

She said the government has approved about $7.5 million in individual aid to homeowners and about $13.3 million in low-interest Small Business Administration loans. About $1.1 million should be paid out in disaster unemployment assistance, Fong said.

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