Gov. Dayton requests presidential disaster declaration

WORTHINGTON – Gov. Mark Dayton Wednesday requested that President Barack Obama declare a major disaster in Minnesota as a result of heavy rainstorms and flooding that began June 11. In a letter to the president, Dayton described widespread flood damage across Minnesota, and noted that he has expanded the state’s peacetime state of emergency to include 16 additional counties – bringing the total counties impacted to 51.

To date, $10.8 million in eligible damages have been documented through preliminary damage assessments in several counties, including Jackson, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone and Rock. The FEMA threshold for federal assistance is $7.3 million in statewide eligible damages.

In the letter to the president, Dayton states Rock County suffered the most damage, with a staggering per capita loss of $589.58. The letter breaks down the disaster categories, showing that in Category D, when seven inches of rain fell overnight, the dam on the river at Blue Mounds State Park in Rock County failed, and the rush of water was a contributing factor to the flash flood that inundated the city of Luverne. The per capita cost to replace the water control structure is $154.85.

The category breakdown also includes mention of the Buffalo Ridge Regional Railroad Authority, noting that the 42 miles of track are a transportation link for the local economy, serving as a connection between local agriculture commodity producers and the Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe railway networks.

Dayton noted that preliminary damage assessments are coming in higher than initial estimates, and because some of the hardest hit areas won’t be able to be assessed for several weeks, he is requesting a federal disaster declaration now. The Governor said once all preliminary damage assessments are complete, he will formally request FEMA designate assistance for all additional counties and tribal governments that exceed their threshold.

Most of the damage reported by local officials is to roads and bridges. Local governments also expended significant resources to protect their communities from floodwaters and for cleanup operations caused by mudslides and sinkholes.

If granted by the President, the disaster declaration would provide assistance to townships, cities, counties, schools, and certain private not-for-profit organizations for uninsured and eligible storm-related damage to public infrastructure.

If the President declares a major disaster, FEMA would fund 75 percent of approved costs. Under legislation signed by Governor Dayton this year, the state will pay the 25 percent non-federal share.

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