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State offers loans for homeowners with flood damage

Water damaged Wayne Perius's home north of Verndale after the July 11 rain storm. Like most flood victims, his insurance won't cover damages, but Perius may be eligible for low-interest - or no interest - loans from the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency.

Although most area residents who suffered flood damage following the July 11 rains weren't covered by insurance, the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency is offering two loan programs to help return these homes to pre-disaster condition.

Community Fix Up flood loans can provide up to $50,000 for homeowners with qualifying credit at 3 percent interest.

For residents who don't qualify for the Community Fix Up loans - or those with damage that exceeds what is covered by that program - the state offers the Quick Start Disaster Recovery Program, which can provide additional assistance up to $20,000. The Quick Start loans are interest free and forgiven if owners remain in the home for at least 10 years. This program is also available for rental housing properties.

"These programs are critical resources for people who experienced this year's flood damage," Mary Tingerthal, Minnesota Housing Commissioner, said in a statement. "I encourage property owners in affected areas to contract our lender partners to learn more."

Bemidji-based Headwaters Regional Development Commission (HRDC) is administering the loan programs in Todd and Wadena counties.

Jackie Meixner, Headwaters financial analyst, said the organization is planning to host a meeting in Wadena, most likely in early September, to explain the loan programs. When the time and location of the event is announced, it will be posted at

"We want to make sure people realize there are resources available," Meixner said. "And the second goal is to get the initial paperwork started."

The loan application deadline is Oct. 24.

To apply, contact Headwaters RDC at (218) 333-6530 or by mail at 403 4th St. NW Suite 310, Bemidji, MN 56601.

Applicants will need to provide a letter of denial or partial benefits from homeowner's insurance, photos of damage, receipts from any replacements/repairs, proof of homeowner's insurance, contractor bids and proof of being current on mortgage and property taxes (for Community Fix Up loans only).

Officials don't have an estimate of how many homes were damaged and to what extent, said Luke Mandershied, Wadena County Sheriff's Office emergency management director.

Meixner said she's "hoping we'll get a better sense from (the community meeting) as far as how many families are affected."

Meanwhile, a group of volunteers are working to reboot a relief organization, Long Term Recovery, that distributed funds following the 2010 tornado.

Renamed Neighbor to Neighbor, the organization plans to follow the same process as the previous disaster, said Councilwoman Jeanette Baymler, a volunteer. It still has nearly $10,000 in the bank and intends to fundraise more, she said.

To donate to the Wadena Area Relief Fund, go to

Residents in need would submit an application to Neighbor to Neighbor, which would be evaluated by a social worker. Then, a three-person committee would decide make recommendations on how to distribute the money.

The process would require city council approval.

Wadena city officials have also asked the Initiative Foundation to reallocate the remaining money in a tornado relief fund and to make a loan fund - originally accessible for business recovery following the tornado - accessible to homeowners with flood damage.

The request in under consideration, said Initiative Foundation spokesman Bob McClintick.

"We're really interested in working on a partnership with the city and just finding out the best way to access these dollars and administer these dollars," he said.