Walz appeals denied federal disaster declaration for $15M in fire-related damages from riots

(FOX 9)

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz is appealing FEMA's decision to deny a federal disaster declaration for the fire damages experienced during the riots following George Floyd's death.

During a preliminary damage survey conducted in June, FEMA representatives worked with state officials and determined $15,658,865 in eligible fire-related damages.

Walz filed for the financial aid on July 2, but his request was denied on July 10. According to Walz's appeal letter, the FEMA administrator denied the declaration because "federal assistance is not warranted or appropriate." In an email to FOX 9, a FEMA representative said the agency determined "the impact to public infrastructure is within the capabilities of the local and state governments to recover from."

In his appeal, Walz argues the fires should be included under the Stafford Act, which includes "regardless of cause, any fire" as part of its definition for a major disaster.

"The disaster request reflects costs that are clearly eligible," wrote Walz. "The magnitude of the event, especially when combined with the pandemic and other disasters, is certainly very severe."

Federal funding for the disaster declaration would reimburse local governments for 75 percent of eligible costs related to removing debris, emergency protective measures, as well as damage to public buildings and equipment.

During the riots, nearly 1,500 businesses were damaged in the Twin Cities through vandalism, fire or looting. Damages estimates are greater than $500 million.