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Flooding aid coming from government, Pawlenty says

Officials use a boat to patrol the Red River after in flooded a neighborhood Thursday between Moorhead and Fargo, N.D. AP Photo/Jim Mone

ST. PAUL -- The Homeland Security Department chief promises quick action on Minnesota's request for federal disaster aid.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Thursday afternoon said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano assured him that his re-quest for seven no-rthwest Minnesota counties to be de-clared federal disaster areas will be put on the fast tract. She promised the governor to deliver the request quickly to President Obama.

"She was very confident and very encouraging that it will be granted," Pawlenty said.

However, the governor added, a full federal disaster designation is not needed immediately.

In the meantime, the state will continue to provide whatever aid it can to Red River Valley communities, he said.

"Government employees at all levels are doing all they can to fight this flood," Pawlenty said.

The federal disaster declaration is important because with it comes money from Washington.

It could include disaster unemployment assistance, small business disaster loans and low-interest loans for flooded farmers.

About 450 National Guard members are working on the flood fight, with more expected.

"We are giving it all we have," Pawlenty said.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.