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Bush Declares Minn. Disaster Area

June 14, 2002

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ President Bush declared northwestern Minnesota a disaster area Friday, making federal aid available to a region where up to a foot of rain fell in recent days.

The city of Roseau, about 10 miles south of the Canadian border, was hardest hit. Nearly every building in the town of 3,000 people was damaged by the Roseau River, which remained about 6 feet above flood stage Friday.

The floods also forced Ada and other communities to shore up their dikes, and damaged or destroyed nearly 2 million acres of crops. Severe storms dumped 5 to 12 inches of rain since last weekend, causing flooding in 13 counties.

Ron Sherman, local coordinator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said the president’s declaration clears the way for government grants and loans for people hurt by the floods.

The river was expected to stay at about 22 feet for several days after falling slightly from its crest late Wednesday, according to the weather service.

Roseau Mayor Jeff Pelowski and other officials said Friday they were worried that people displaced by the floods might not return. Rural Minnesota has been losing population for years.

``We are focused like a laser on the employment aspect of this, the housing aspect of this,″ said Charlie Weaver, the state’s commissioner of public safety. ``We want to make sure that people don’t leave the area because of this.″

Lt. Gov. Mae Schunk requested the disaster declaration Thursday, filling in for Gov. Jesse Ventura, who was in China on a trade mission.

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On the Net:

Federal Emergency Management Agency: http://www.fema.gov

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