MANKATO — County officials across south-central Minnesota have become quite familiar with the process behind seeking public assistance from state and federal agencies in the wake of severe weather.
In Blue Earth County, nine townships, Lake Crystal, Mankato, various county departments and even the state Department of Natural Resources made their case to state officials and representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency Tuesday.
State and federal officials are touring Minnesota this week to gather preliminary damage estimates from winter storms and spring flooding over the past two months.
State officials are planning to ask President Donald Trump to sign off on federal disaster aid for Minnesota, which has sustained millions of dollars in damages from flooding throughout central and southern Minnesota starting in mid-March as well as a winter storm that rolled through the area April 10-11.
In Blue Earth County alone, the floods and winter weather have caused an estimated $1.7 million in public property damage.
"For small communities especially, these kind of expenses can really blow a hole in their budgets," said FEMA spokesperson David Mace.
That damage ranges from hundreds of power lines taken down during the snowstorm to massive water damage to area trails, roads and parks throughout the area.
Mankato suffered more than $900,000 in estimated public property damage over the past two months, including at Kiwanis Park, Land of Memories Park, Rasmussen Woods and Elk's Nature Center, along with various trails, bridges and roads.
Kiwanis Park has about $22,000 in estimated damage to its fencing, archery range and trails, but Land of Memories is likely the hardest hit public area in the city. Silt covers the campgrounds, the nearby road and parking lot took a lot of water damage, and even Floyd Roberts Jr. Pavilion and electrical pedestals have also been damaged.
City officials estimate it will take about $100,000 just to remove debris from Land of Memories, though they say cleanup costs could increase.
"The unfortunate thing is that we are unable to determine the actual damage because the water hasn't receded enough, so we're still waiting on that," said Pam Hermanson, the city of Mankato's associate director of public safety.
City Manager Pat Hentges said it will take some time for the city to clean up Land of Memories. While some people may hope to camp there this summer, Hentges said the city doesn't expect many will opt to visit the park in June due to the flooding damage.
State and federal officials will take reports from 50 out of Minnesota's 87 counties, as well as four tribal nations. State officials will gather those reports to submit to the Trump administration for aid assistance over the next few months.