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Walz: State can help with southeast flood recovery

Updated: July 11, 2019 05:31 PM

Governor Tim Walz surveyed parts of Olmsted County Thursday to see the lasting impact severe flooding had on the area in late June and early July.

"The damage, as you can see, is dramatic,” Walz said.

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Local officials estimated the damage at between $600,000 and $800,000 across Olmsted County. There’s so much storm debris in and around Oxbow Park in Byron that they’re burning it in huge piles. Walz said it’s important for state leaders to visit hard-hit areas in person.

"It's important to get out here to hear the human side and for local officials to tell us what can be done,” Walz said.

RELATED:Walz to tour flood damage in southeastern Minn.

There are washed out roads and fields of crops destroyed by standing water from the Zumbro River, which overflowed its banks. Walz praised the efforts of emergency first responders for keeping people safe during the storms and thanked volunteers who’ve already stepped up to help.

RELATED VIDEO:40 cattle swept downriver in southern Minnesota flooding

Olmsted County Sheriff Kevin Torgerson said he appreciated the chance to personally show the governor the lasting impact of the storms.

“We still have several roads blocked and who knows how long before our public works crews can get those up to speed,” Torgerson said. “Ultimately, there's still help we will need, and that's where the money the state has set aside for just this reason is fantastic."

Walz explained the state has a Disaster Assistance Contingency Account for these types of emergencies that cause substantial damage that local communities can’t afford to fix on their own – but where the total impact isn’t great enough to meet thresholds for federal assistance. The state money helps communities bridge that gap.

Walz said helping the areas around Rochester recover is in the best interest of the entire state and some of the repairs needed in the area will likely qualify for state assistance.

“If we bring this area back,” Walz said,” they will continue to contribute back to the state. We're better together when we have that resiliency.”

Ron Thompson lives near one of the washed out roads. He said he’s grateful for the governor’s visit.

"I would just want him to know we would like any help they can give to us to help us get back,” Thompson said.
 

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Matt Belanger

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