2 to 3 years to rebuildIt may take two to three years to get Dickinson’s housing back on its feet following a July 8 tornado,
By: Beth Wischmeyer, The Dickinson Press
It may take two to three years to get Dickinson’s housing back on its feet following a July 8 tornado, a city official said Wednesday.
Dickinson Commission President Dennis Johnson, along with Gov. John Hoeven and other state, local and federal officials, briefed the media Wednesday on the status of clean-up efforts and what’s next. Housing will be looked at closely, Johnson said.
“It’s in the best interest of our citizens to not only rebuild quickly but that we rebuild well and that perhaps we could take advantage of this situation and make our neighborhoods even more vibrant and better than what they were,” Johnson said.
Last year the city issued about 70 single family housing permits.
“It would look to me that we lost about a one-year supply,” Johnson said. “If Dickinson continues to grow we not only have to keep up with that growth, we have to make up what we lost.”
Johnson said he believes about 46 apartment dwellings were lost and about 30 to 40 homes during the July 8 storm.
Clean-up efforts, for the most part, are complete, Johnson said.
“There are just some odds and ends that remain,” Johnson said. “Now we move into the recovery process where we have to rebuild and that will be our major focus now.”
As of Wednesday, more than 1,200 tons of material have been brought to the landfill, said city Administrator Shawn Kessel.
Hoeven remarked on the difference in the city since the tornado.
“We just got a chance to look around a little at the recovery effort and it’s absolutely remarkable,” Hoeven said. “I was here less than two weeks ago and the amount of work that they’ve done and recovery they’ve done in the last two weeks with the citizens here says volumes about the people of North Dakota.”
Hoeven said he realizes there are still difficulties faced by citizens who may have lost their belongings and their homes.
“We want to help in that effort,” Hoeven said.
The next step, officials say, is to deal with housing and unmet needs, as well as counseling and insurance issues.
Pastor Steve Tangen, St. John’s Lutheran Church and member of the recently established unmet needs committee, said funds raised will be distributed in a fair way. Unmet needs are those not covered by agencies or insurance, he said.
“The unmet needs committee will not only provide dollars for housing, clothing and those kinds of things but also for mental health, child care and loss of income,” Tangen said.
Tangen said more information is available at the Disaster Recovery Center at the Prairie Hills Mall. A tentative deadline of Aug. 17 has been set for application of those funds.
Those seeking counseling should contact Southwest District Health and the state Department of Human Services, Kessel said.
“Sometimes people feel too proud to go in and get counseling and there’s going to be financial counseling and emotional counseling available,” he said.
A weekly non-denominational support group meeting will be held at St. John’s Lutheran Church for storm-affected citizens Thursday nights from 8 to 9.
Federal Emergency Management Agency representative Justo “Tito” Hernandez said about 388 families have registered with the agency.
“We want everyone that suffered damages from this tornado to contact FEMA,” he said. The number is 800-621-3362.
“We want people to call even if they feel they don’t have damages at this time,” Hernandez said. “We will be here for as long as it takes.”
The disaster center, located at the Prairie Hills Mall, will close on Saturday and re-open Monday as a disaster loan outreach center. The center will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“That doesn’t mean we’re leaving, we’re just adjusting to the needs of the applicants that are calling in,” Hernandez said. “We will be providing assistance.”
To date, FEMA has provided citizens with about $119,000 in grants, he said.
Cynthia Cowell, with the Small Business Administration, said federal disaster loans are available for homeowners, renters and businesses.
“We’re encouraging everyone to complete their SBA applications and get them turned in,” Cowell said. “The deadline is Aug. 10.”
Information on Small Business Administration loans is also available at the outreach center.
Kessel said the affected areas of town no longer look like the disasters they once did.
“We’ve enjoyed wonderful assistance from federal and state and a whole bunch of local agencies,” Kessel said. “We want to try and cover as many needs as we possibly can.”
For more information on where to get help, visit the Dickinson Web site at www.dickinsongov.com.