“Now we’re going down to look at floodwaters as high as seven feet,” he said, calling it “a very tragic situation — almost unprecedented — [with] a lot of hardship.”
Klobuchar said she believes the damage is close to reaching the threshold for declaring a federal emergency — which is about twice the state threshold. In Rock County in the state’s southwestern corner, she said, 40 percent of farmland is under water. She said federal help is likely, just as it came to Duluth in 2012 and during past tornado damage.
“We have to access all the help we can get,” she said.
Eide said the process of obtaining a federal disaster declaration is threefold: Local government units must initially assess the damage and document the cost. Then counties and the state join the process — only after floodwaters recede.
“It’s frustrating for people who have been out of their homes awhile and it looks like nothing is being done, but we have to wait until we can actually see the damage,” Eide said. The state will request a FEMA damage assessment within the next week. Everything should be wrapped up within the next three weeks, she said.
“With our new state [contingency] fund we can get cash back into the communities a lot faster than we could in prior years,” she said. “We are really quite a few months ahead this year than we would have been if this happened last year.”
If the federal threshold is met, the government will recoup 75 percent of damage to public infrastructure such as water treatment plants, roads and bridges.
Despite the adversity, Franken said it also brings out the best in the state.
“What you see every time you go to these things is Minnesotans helping other Minnesotans,” he said.
Frederickson said there’s a slim chance farmers could replant some crops, but “that window’s closing fast.
“Right now there’s probably 80-85 percent of farmers that do have a federal crop insurance that will cover them, but it never makes them whole in this case.”
Dayton has declared a state of emergency in 35 counties. He also directed the state’s National Guard to send 100 soldiers to fight flooding on the Rainy River and Rainy Lake in northern Minnesota’s Koochiching County. Another 20 National Guard members were dispatched Friday to help sandbagging operations in Henderson along the Minnesota River.
Taste of Minnesota Festival owner Linda Maddox, widow of Taste founder Ron Maddox, said St. Paul officials told her the event needs to move off Harriet Island to higher ground.
“The festival is ready to go. It’s portable to an extent,” she said.
But there isn’t a whole lot of time to find an alternative site. Maddox said she is hoping to line up something no later than Monday.
Several highways reopened Friday and Department of Natural Resources officials noted that most of the 75 state parks and 25 state trails will be open this weekend. Only two state parks — Blue Mounds in Luverne and Franz Jevne on the Canadian border — are closed, while Fort Ridgely State Park in Fairfax and Upper Sioux Agency State Park in Granite Falls have closed campgrounds but remain open for day use.
“With some sunshine in the forecast, we hope everyone who has been cooped up indoors this week will take advantage of the nice weather and get out,” said Peter Hark, operations manager for the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division.