State funds likely coming to our area for storm damage

ALBERT LEA, Minn. – Friday’s sunshine feels like a much needed break from all the rain this past week, but do not get used to it because more rain is in the forecast. This past week’s weather has already forced Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton to declare a state of emergency for 35 counties across the state. That includes almost every one in our area, and the damage likely is not done yet. Albert Lea is coined as the “Land Between the Lakes,” but now that land in between has turned into a lake of its own. “It’s a lot of water here this year,” said Miguel Sanchez of Albert Lea. Sanchez has witnessed the rain like all of us, but he had to come check out how high the water is for himself. “The street’s closed and we’ve got a lot of traffic over here, because they can’t go over there,” Sanchez said pointing from Bridge Ave. to Main St. Water continues to fill Main St. to the point where people say it is as high as they have ever seen. “We’ve had downed power lines, high water, wind damage and that type of thing, so it’s been pretty much three days of constant rain and constant storms,” said Freeborn County Emergency Management Director, Rich Hall. Hall and other Freeborn County workers are working to wrap up their preliminary damage assessment. He said, “It is looking like they will reach the threshold needed for assistance from the state. It would mean help for the county for roads. County, township, cities as far as roads, emergency usage of manpower and that type of thing, and their pumps and equipment, any type of thing that they’d want to use,” Hall said. In the meantime, they will continue to get things as close to normal as possible. “The county highway departments, the townships, they’re all, as the water recedes, they’ll be out working. Right now we still have a lot of roads underwater and things and it’s hard to assess the damage on some of that and the washouts and things that might have occurred,” Hall said. State officials say the magnitude of the flooding across the entire state make it almost certain that a federal disaster request will happen. Minnesota did create a $3 million contingency fund this year. It would match any federal aid for disasters. Dayton also said he is not ruling out the need for a special session if more funds are needed.

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