Southeast Minnesota

Counties can request storm disaster funds

State officials have verified more than $2 million in storm and flood damage across nine southeast Minnesota counties from a mid-July tempest, prompting Gov. Tim Walz to authorize the release of financial aid from a disaster contingency account.

Walz authorized release of the money on Oct. 9. Blue Earth, Cottonwood, Dodge, Fillmore, Freeborn, Houston, Le Sueur, Wabasha and Winona counties can now request funds from the account. The money may be used to cover 75% of their emergency response, recovery and repair expenses resulting from the July 16-20 storms.

Walz designated Joe Kelly, director of state Homeland Security and Emergency Management, to disburse the money as he deems appropriate under the law.

Dan Browning


Floodwaters swamp Red River Valley fields

Oslo residents lined up sandbagging materials last week as a historic fall flood pushed the Red River of the North to a crest just over 37 feet Friday — 11 feet above flood stage.

Heavy rains soaked farm fields around this town of 300 residents 24 miles north of Grand Forks, but both roads through town remained open and the water did no damage to the city, according to Debbie Goschke, Oslo's clerk-treasurer.

Drier weather on Thursday and Friday provided a respite, allowing the Snake River near Oslo to recede a bit, said Greg Gust, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Forks. But he said the Red River was still pushing a lot of water out after reaching a historic fall peak at Grand Forks.

"Grand Forks far exceeded what it had ever been for this time of year by nearly 40 percent of the volume flow," Gust said.

The Red River flows north into Canada. Gust said that Winnipeg officials recently had to open a flood gate — the first time they've ever done so in the fall.

Gust noted that previous fall flood records in the region were set in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Those years were followed by the spring floods of 2009, 2010 and 2011. Those floods were driven primarily by snowmelt.

The weather service outlook for this winter, published Thursday, predicts near normal temperatures with above-normal precipitation in the area.

"We could continue both wet in the fall and snowy in the winter, so stay tuned," Gust said. "Typically, when we're talking about spring flood threats, the big years tend to have big wet years in the fall."

Dan Browning