Flooding prompts Dayton to seek disaster declaration

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 9, 2014 - 9:11 PM

Gov. Mark Dayton requested Wednesday that President Obama declare a major disaster in Minnesota from heavy rain and flooding last month that waterlogged the state from top to bottom.

In a letter to the president, Dayton also has added many more counties — now 51, up from 35 — to his previously declared state of emergency.

The newly added counties are: Anoka, Chippewa, Chisago, Dakota, Hennepin, Itasca, Kandiyohi, Lac qui Parle, Martin, Marshall, Stearns, Wabasha, Washington, Watonwan, Wright and Yellow Medicine.

So far, according to the governor’s office, $10.8 million in eligible damages have been documented through preliminary assessments in southwestern Minnesota’s Chippewa, Freeborn, Jackson, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone, Renville and Rock counties. That total surpasses the statewide threshold for federal assistance of $7.3 million.

Dayton’s letter also said that 31 counties and one American Indian tribe have reported more than $55 million in costs for response to the flooding and uninsured damages to public infrastructure. Further assessments are being done by various state and federal agencies.

Most of the damage reported by local officials is to roads and bridges, Dayton’s office said. Local governments also spent money to fight floodwaters and clean up from mudslides and sinkholes.

If granted by Obama, the disaster declaration would provide assistance to municipalities, schools and certain private not-for-profit organizations for uninsured and eligible storm-related damage to public infrastructure. The Federal Emergency Management Agency would cover three-fourths of the total, with the state covering the rest.

Dayton also has asked the Federal Highway Administration for additional help to repair flood-damaged roads.

“The flood damage recently inflicted on Minnesota roads, highways and bridges has been severe and widespread,” Dayton said in a statement. “These funds will speed up important repairs statewide.”

The state’s congressional delegation issued a statement backing the aid request.

Also, the U.S. Department of Transportation assured the state Wednesday that up to $5 million in “quick release” emergency relief money is on the way. This money is in addition to the $750,000 in supplemental federal transportation funding the state received June 23.

Over the past several weeks, Dayton has visited flood-affected communities in more than a dozen counties to meet with local emergency responders and assess flood damage.

Local officials frequently noted flood damage to their roads and bridges, emphasizing the need to repair that damage as quickly as possible.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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