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Freeborn looking at getting aid for storm damage

Published 5:48pm Saturday, July 13, 2013

Freeborn County appears to be on track to receive federal money to cover storm damage the county received in June.

City and township officials from Freeborn County presented damage estimates from this summer’s severe storms to state officials on Thursday.

Those estimates will be added to preliminary damage assessments from 15 other counties that were struck by severe storms this year.

Though the actual dollar estimate of damage was not available for the county as a whole, it appears Freeborn County has met a threshold for a potential disaster declaration, said Freeborn County Emergency Management Director Rich Hall.

The threshold, based on population, is about $108,000 for the county, said Wayne Lamoreaux, engineering specialist for the state’s Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

The state must reach a threshold of $7.2 million before Gov. Mark Dayton can request a presidential disaster declaration from President Barack Obama.

“It appears we’re going to be going in that direction,” Lamoreaux said.

The storms, which took place June 20-26, caused damage to public infrastructure and utilities, along with flooding to numerous homes. In addition to debris removal and infrastructure costs, Lamoreaux said cities and townships could be reimbursed for extra manpower and emergency measures that were taken to protect the public.

Scott Marpe, chairman of the Nunda Township board, said about half of the township’s 21 miles of roadways were damaged, and some of its culverts will need to be replaced.

Marpe said many ditches were filled with dirt and gravel that was swept off the roadways.

Nordean Krueger of Pickerel Lake Township, said his township also lost much of its gravel on roadways.

While the roads are now dry, “they’re not pretty.”

“It’s the worst I’ve ever seen,” Krueger said.

He estimated a little less than $50,000 in damages for his township alone.

Mark Roche, with the city of Albert Lea Fire and Inspection Department, said while Albert Lea did not suffer any major infrastructure damages, most of its costs came from extra manpower needed to block streets that were underwater and for pumping water.

Freeborn County Engineer Sue Miller said she estimated between $85,000 and $90,000 in damages for the county’s Highway Department.

Representatives from the offices of U.S. Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar and 1st District House Rep. Tim Walz were also on hand to hear concerns.

Klobuchar said in a statement that the storms and flash flooding have placed an “economic and financial drain” on communities across southern Minnesota.

“If the governor requests federal assistance, I stand ready to support that request and do everything I can to help these communities get the resources they need to recover quickly,” Franken added.

Lamoreaux said while it is difficult to determine how long it will take before a declaration is determined, he estimated it could be a few weeks to a month.

Four teams of state and federal officials are assessing damages this week.

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