President declares Mower County disaster area

Published 4:36 pm Wednesday, June 25, 2008

After sending a letter to President George Bush supporting a Presidential Disaster Declaration for four southern Minnesota counties severely damaged by recent flooding, Sens. Norm Coleman and Amy Klobuchar and Congressman Tim Walz announced the president has responded and declared a major disaster for Fillmore, Freeborn, Houston and Mower counties. The four counties sustained an estimated $8.3 million in damage due to the flooding.

These counties are now eligible to receive aid through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Public Assistance Program. Public Assistance is oriented to public entities and can fund the repair, restoration, reconstruction or replacement of a public facility or infrastructure which is damaged or destroyed by a disaster. State officials, assisted by FEMA, will conduct Applicant Briefings for state, local and PNP officials to inform them about the assistance available and how to apply for it.

Locally, Wayne Madson, Mower County emergency management director, said he was pleased and grateful.

Email newsletter signup

“This will help our cities, our townships and other local government entities replace or repair their public infrastructure damaged by the June flooding,” Madson said. “We are grateful.”

Madson said it was the combination of the four counties seeking disaster aid together that helped them qualify for the assistance.

A total of $1.5 million will go to municipalities, according to Madson, while more than $400,000 will go to townships and outlying areas for road and other repairs.

He said not granting individual assistance would be a “tough deal” for those property owners who suffered losses.

The elected officials making the announcement also pointed out the value of four counties applying for aid as a unit.

“All four of these counties have experienced their second serious flood in just a few short years. This presidential declaration allows affected cities to obtain hazard mitigation funding that can help prevent flooding in the future,” Walz said. “Businesses like Austin Packaging Company are counting on federal dollars to help make it possible for them to continue operations in our area. I believe this declaration will make the difference for APC and others who are trying to recover and plan for the future.”

“These communities have shown tremendous courage and resilience since the floods hit,’’ Klobuchar said. “But at a time like this local communities should not be expected to fend for themselves. The federal government has an essential role to support communities as they recover and rebuild, and I’m proud that we will be able to deliver help quickly.’’

“Southeastern Minnesota is in need of assistance right now, and this disaster declaration will help the region recover,” said Coleman. “After visiting the flood-stricken areas, I saw firsthand the toll the storms took on these communities. A Presidential Disaster Declaration will deliver the assistance these counties need to rebuild their communities and their lives. I applaud the president for this decision — it will make all the difference for an area of the state that has endured great hardship.”

The support letter sent by Coleman, Klobuchar and Walz followed an official submission for assistance by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who requested federal assistance to help respond to the flooding of June 7-8 and 11-12 that severely impacted Houston, Fillmore, Mower and Freeborn counties.