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Minnesota state of emergency extended. Dayton: the scale of the flooding is 'overwhelming'

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: June 23, 2014 - 5:21 PM

With flooding around the state still expected to grow worse, Minnesota's executive council on Monday extended a state of emergency declaration for 35 water-logged counties.

"We still have a building emergency," Gov.. Mark Dayton said. "A lot more is going to need to be done."

The executive council -- made up of the state's five constitutional officers -- approved the declaration unanimously and in just a few minutes. The move continues the state of emergency, which Dayton declared last week, for another 30 days.

The DFL governor said that he expected that given the scale of the storm ravages, which leveled some fields, caused mudslides, flooded homes and washed out roads, Minnesota will qualify for federal disaster assistance. That declaration is unlikely until the flood waters recede.

"The scale of it is overwhelming," said Dayton, who toured the southern Minnesota flood zone last week and expects to tour metro area spots Tuesday.

On Monday afternoon, as the state was preparing to extend the state of emergency, the U.S. Department of Transportation was announcing that it would immediately release $750,000 to help the state repair flood-damaged roads.

“These funds are a down payment to help Minnesotans begin repairing roads damaged in last week’s flooding,” said Secretary Anthony Foxx in a statement. “One of the first steps in getting repairs underway is to make funds available and we are working to ensure the state can get the necessary work started quickly.”

The governor also hopes to make a personal appeal to President Obama for help when the president visits Minnesota on Thursday.

"I will certainly be bringing the subject up with him," Dayton said.

The state has a $3 million disaster relief fund approved to help communities in tough times. Dayton said that fund may be exhausted by the extent of the damage. If so, the governor would need to call a special session of the Legislature to approve more help.

The governor said he does not worry about getting bipartisan approval for such a move.

"When we have these kind of disasters, we're not Republicans or Democrats. We're all Minnesotans," Dayton said.

Photo: Street flooding on Cedar Ave where flood waters from the Minnehaha Creek have spilled onto Cedar Ave.//file photo from June 19, 2014.

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