The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

June 24, 2014

Blue Earth County seeks disaster declaration

Blue Earth County Board hears reports of wind, water damage

MANKATO — When Mike Maurer's turn on the agenda came up at Blue Earth County's Board meeting Tuesday, there was little doubt about the topic.

"Whenever you come, it's always a disaster," County Attorney Ross Arneson told the chief deputy sheriff and county emergency management director as he settled in.

In one respect, Maurer hopes so. He asked the board to pass a resolution to request the governor to petition the president to declare Blue Earth County a major disaster area.

The board quickly and unanimously passed the resolution, one week after the biggest of a six-day series of downpours flooded basements, streets, ravines and rivers. Blue Earth is one of 35 counties in a "state of emergency" declared by Gov. Mark Dayton, who has indicated he will seek the federal disaster declaration, which could bring millions of dollars in assistance from Washington, D.C., to state and local governments.

The minimum threshold statewide is $7.3 million in uninsured disaster-related damage to public infrastructure such as roads, parks, sewer systems and other government property. When all the numbers are tabulated after waters recede, the Dayton administration might not have to look beyond south-central Minnesota to reach the threshold.

"Blue Earth County right now on the preliminary reporting is looking at damage in excess of $500,000," Maurer said.

And that doesn't include a huge piece of water main in Mankato that washed out during a landslide, dumping 1.4 million gallons of drinking water on the already saturated city.

"That could easily go over $1 million (alone)," Maurer said of the water main repairs.

The Le Sueur County Board learned Tuesday the preliminary estimate of damage to public infrastructure in that county, which contains especially hard-hit neighborhoods in Waterville, is already at $1 million. Sibley County, particularly Henderson, also is facing extremely high river levels and landslides.

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