Minnesota Governor Visits Flooded Communities

June 27, 2014

Gov. Mark Dayton made the rounds of more Minnesota cities along flood-swollen rivers Tuesday to meet with emergency managers and local elected officials.

Dayton visited four more communities that are still dealing with historic flooding or have started cleaning up. In Mendota, a tiny town just south of St. Paul, he got an up-close look at a ridge on the verge of sliding into evacuated homes and heard from residents navigating well-water and insurance claim issues.

The governor hasn’t ruled out a special legislative session if available state emergency aid runs out. He said a federal disaster request is coming together and he plans to personally lobby President Barack Obama during a visit to Minnesota this week.

“The Canadian border is impacted and the Iowa border is impacted, and a lot of places in between are impacted,” Dayton said. “I haven’t seen something this widespread.”

Dayton’s flood travels last week included visits to Luverne in the southwest corner of the state and International Falls on the northern border. He planned to head north again Wednesday to Warroad, where Lake of the Woods is rising due to water coming down the Rainy River.

Earlier, Delano City Administrator Phil Kern told the governor a conservative estimate of damage from the Crow River is already at $250,000, about 10 percent of the city’s budget.

Rivers and lakes across much of Minnesota are swollen from heavy rains this month. The flooding has blocked roads and bridges, caused mudslides, flooded basements and ruined crops.

Dayton told officials in Delano he “wouldn’t be surprised” if the state’s new $3 million disaster assistance fund runs out, but said the waters must recede so damage can be assessed before he decides on whether to call a special legislative season to allocate more money, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis reported.

The Mississippi River was about 5 feet above flood stage in St. Paul on Tuesday with a crest of about 61/2 feet above flood stage projected for Thursday, which would be its highest level since 2001, according to National Weather Service data. The Minnesota River was about 15 feet above flood stage at with a crest of about a half-foot higher projected for Thursday. The Crow River was near a crest about 41/2 feet above flood stage in Delano. However, the Minnesota River was falling at Mankato, where it crested Monday around 4 feet above flood stage.

Those figures are all well below record levels, but the water has been high enough to close some important commuter roads and bridges in the Twin Cities suburbs and force several communities to take steps to limit the damage.

St. Paul for example, filed papers with the state declaring a state of emergency on Monday as it tries to recoup some of the around $1.7 million it anticipates spending on flood protection efforts.

“It is a manageable weather event, based on current river crest forecasts, but financial damages to the city are rising,” said Tonya Tennessen, spokeswoman for Mayor Chris Coleman.

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