Officials begin to assess damage

  • Article by: KEVIN DUCHSCHERE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 22, 2007 - 11:06 PM

LA CRESCENT, MINN. - Federal and state officials began the painstaking task Wednesday of sizing up flood damage to homes, businesses and infrastructure in southeastern Minnesota.

Four assessment teams went out Wednesday afternoon to Winona, Rushford and Houston. This morning, nine teams will target the hardest-hit areas.

Each team includes five or six officials representing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Small Business Administration and state agencies, said Melynda Petrie, a FEMA spokeswoman in Minnesota.

Petrie said the teams will go door to door to speak with residents and business people.

The information they collect might be used to decide whether to seek federal disaster relief, she said.

The reports will frame a general picture of damage, rather than provide dollar estimates. "Our main goal is to see as much damage as possible," Petrie said.

Some residents and business owners expressed frustration that they had yet to see federal authorities about losses.

Larry Dahl, owner of Dahl's Auto Works in downtown Rushford, puts his losses at about $200,000 in damaged equipment and $20,000 in lost parts, not to mention structural damage to his building.

Dahl said he has no flood insurance.

"I hope the federal government has some money," he said Wednesday. "There are 70 businesses here, and some of them may never open again."

Latest on the weather

There's sunshine in sight by the weekend for flood-battered southern Minnesota, but not before more rain falls, the National Weather Service in La Crosse, Wis., said Wednesday.

"We've got one more wave to get through here after [Wednesday night], and then we should be dry through the weekend," meteorologist Brad Adams said.

Rain systems crossing northern Iowa and into southern Minnesota Wednesday have the potential to drop 1 to 2 inches of rain after midnight and through this evening, Adams said.

In Houston County, the Root River had fallen to 10.5 feet by Wednesday evening, down 4 feet from Tuesday, he said.

Another 1.5 inches of rain by noon today might push the Root above flood stage, affecting mostly low-land agricultural areas, he said.

"We would need, obviously, for it to go much higher to have any impacts worse than what we've had there," Adams said.

Still, meteorologist Mike Welvaert. said, even an inch could cause problems.

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