Minneapolis mayor gives White House a nudge on tornado relief

Dayton, Rybak, Klobuchar, Ellison, Zellers
In a May 23, 2011 file photo, from right, Gov. Mark Dayton, Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Rep. Keith Ellison talk with the media after taking a tour of the tornado damage in Minneapolis, Minn.
MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak is asking President Obama to extend federal assistance to victims of the May 22 tornado to individual residents and businesses.

The current federal disaster declaration covers public property. Rybak wants the declaration extended to private property.

He made the request Friday in a letter to the president. The mayor said his letter is just one of many ways the city is reaching out to federal officials for help.

"Sadly, there are alot of disasters that have happened recently," Rybak said. "Thankfully, we're not as bad as some. But there's a serious need here, so we're going to keep making as much of an overture as we can to get the response that we think is deserved here."

Obama has already made a presidential disaster declaration for public assistance, which helps cover losses to publicly owned property and facilities. Rybak wants him to extend the declaration in Hennepin County to include individual assistance, which helps cover losses to individuals, families and businesses.

"This is really the one way you really get help directly to people. There isn't really a Plan B. Plan A is really important."

Rybak's letter is just one of several strategies the city is employing to convince federal officials to help north Minneapolis residents. The mayor said many affected by the tornado may not have private insurance or their insurance won't cover all the damage. If they don't receive help soon, some will lose their homes altogether.

Along with the letter, Rybak also sent Obama a map that shows the neighborhoods most heavily affected by the tornado are those with some of the highest rates of poverty and unemployment in the state.