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Grant could help tornado survivors

People in Wadena County with financial needs from properties affected by the June 17 tornadoes may get help from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

The Wadena City Council voted to go ahead on a Minnesota Small Cities Development Program grant in a hearing which was open to the public.

Areas eligible for the grant include Wadena Township and Leaf River Township as well as the Wadena city limits.

City Administrator Brad Swenson said that Otter Tail County, which was also affected by the tornadoes, is in a different DEED district from Wadena County.

The full application based on pre-applications included a request for $240,000 for 24 units of owner occupied repairs, $180,000 for repairs for 18 rental units and $200,000 for 10 units for new construction replacing owner-occupied houses which had been totaled.

Mayor Wayne Wolden and city council member Jeanette Baymler said that one of the requirements was that homeowner

applicants had to have lived in the tornado zone before June 17, so buying and fixing property after the tornado was not eligible.

"It's meant to help the storm victims," Swenson said.

Housing and Redevelopment Authority Director Diane Rousslang said that they should hear back about the grant in April, but there was no guarantee that they would get the funds as requested.

The original application suggestion had been for 18 units of owner occupied repairs, 12 units of rental rehabilitation and 10 units of new construction for homeowners, but both the invitation and the actual application added up to $500,000.

Administrative costs were also allowed to bring the total to $563,500.

A total of 557 pre-applications were mailed to city of Wadena and Wadena County residents affected by the tornado. 12 were returned for new construction, 31 were returned for rental rehabilitation and 72 were returned for owner occupied rehabilitation for a total of 107 pre-applications returned.

The final application will be submitted on Feb. 10.