The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

June 26, 2013

Wells cleans up, tallies damage from wind, rain

FEMA may help towns cover costs

It's all over but the paperwork.

After a June 12 windstorm and perhaps 8 inches of rain last weekend, the city of Wells has picked up its storm debris and repaired its power lines.

Now, they're wondering if the storms will trigger county and state thresholds for federal assistance. Area cities and counties will also need a disaster declaration before they can be reimbursed for their costs.

Representatives from Rep. Tim Walz's office visited Wells Wednesday to offer help in applying for that assistance.

Though federal assistance is limited to public infrastructure, it appears that dozens of basements in Wells and other area cities have been flooded.

Keith Anderson, manager of South Central Mutual Insurance Company in Blue Earth, said he's a smaller insurer, but that every one of their customers in Wells had some damage.

“Water seeks its path of least resistance, and that was coming up in the basement,” he said.

There are no rivers or streams running through Wells, so few residents have flood insurance, he said.

Anderson said his customers have close to $1 million in damage from the storms. The last flooding of this magnitude happened in the summer of 2010, he said.

The first jab in the one-two punch fell on June 12, when a windstorm bent fences and uprooted trees, said Mike Pyzick, interim streets superintendent.

Then, last Friday and Saturday, perhaps 8 inches of rain fell, overwhelming the city's storm sewers and causing a sinkhole. At one point, a vehicle was floating in the water.

“It's been a long 10 days,” he said.

The Salvation Army dropped off cleanup kits at Wells City Hall — a mop, squeegee, gloves, bleach, that sort of thing — but they have all been claimed. The city is expecting a second shipment of the supplies.

Three things have to happen before the cities can be reimbursed for 75 percent of their storm expenses.

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