Commissioners consider flooding damage estimates
Wednesday, July 03, 2013 6:29 AM
Following a June 25 declaration of Fillmore County in a State of Emergency, damage estimates from the June 23 flash flooding were presented to the Board of Commissioners at their regular meeting on Tuesday, July 2.
Emergency Management director Kevin Beck explained it had been a long and tedious process acquiring data from townships, cities and other public entities. He reminded the board that the threshold for federal assistance was roughly $7.3 million in public damages. After pooling data from Houston County and other areas affected in the June 20 to June 26 time period, Beck said there was over $10 million in damage. Fillmore County contributed just over $2.6 million toward that total. Houston County totaled roughly $6.2 million.
County highway engineer Ron Gregg and maintenance supervisor Brent Kohn had toured the county and reported a preliminary estimate of $715,000 in damage to county property. Gregg said their surveys weren't complete and the number would probably rise.
In township damage, the most damage was seen in Norway Township with $559,804. Carrolton Township lost a bridge, which drove up their damage to $205,000. Canton, Bristol, Holt and Preble townships each had over $100,000 in public damage. The numbers are still pending for two townships, but only three townships in Fillmore County did not sustain any damage. Roughly $1.6 million total was calculated for all townships.
City damage was around $182,000 with only Mabel, Chatfield, Lanesboro, Canton and Ostrander reporting losses. Tri-County Electric took a $20,000 hit on their infrastructure and the Lanesboro Fish Hatchery suffered $50,000 in losses. Not included in the county's assessment, but included in the MnDOT assessment was $200,000 in damages to the Choice bridge.
Beck shared that representatives from the state and federal governments would visit the county on July 10 to verify damage reporting. Their assessment will be sent to the governor's office, where Gov. Mark Dayton will review it and forward it to the President of the United States.
Separately from that assessment, the county board approved a resolution requesting Gov. Dayton to petition President Obama to declare Fillmore County to be a major disaster area.
The total numbers may fluctuate some as insurance claims are factored in. Beck said people and entities cannot be reimbursed twice through the government and their insurance. If the total damage assessment figures decline, Beck said it is unlikely they will fall beneath the federal assistance threshold.
"I'm glad we're over it because we can get FEMA in to recoup these losses," shared Beck. FEMA would provide a 75 percent reimbursement with the other 25 percent being left to the state and local governments. Beck said the state had been generous in the past and would hopefully leave less cost to the citizens.
Commissioner Chair Randy Dahl said it would really help out the townships that don't have enough money in their levies to meet the full 25 percent.
Concerning private assistance, Beck said the county would most likely not exceed the threshold. He encouraged people to find resources on the county's website under Social Services.
Veterans' Services Officer Jason Marquardt told the board the Minnesota Department of Veterans' Affairs was making grant dollars available for food and home repairs. The assistance would be for veterans' widows and widowers who were affected by the flooding.
Soil and Water Conservation District administrator Donna Rasmussen updated the board on another possible source of relief funding through the Natural Resources Conservation Service's Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program. The program would pay 75 percent of the cost for damage repairs to natural and man-made structures that affected the watershed and could subsequently pose hazards to life and property. She said a local sponsor was needed to make requests for assessments and asked the county to sign on.
Commissioner Chuck Amunrud asked how this program would work in conjunction with the highway department, adding that he didn't want to see two departments working on the same thing.
Rasmussen said Houston County had already gone forward in approving participation in the EWP.
Commissioner Tom Kaase recommended Fillmore County check into the program for themselves. "I think it's good we are looking at this, but we want to make sure it doesn't contradict or conflict with another process," Kaase remarked.
The program would leave the remaining 25 percent to be paid for by the county, which Rasmussen said could be added to the landowner's taxes or paid through other disaster funds.
Amunrud wondered if asking for the 75 percent from the NRCS would affect funding from FEMA.
County coordinator Karen Brown asked if the funds could be designated for private use.
Commissioner Duane Bakke asked who would be in charge of deciding which projects would get done if there was overlap with the highway department.
Rasmussen said she couldn't answer every question about the EWP. Amunrud said the county was not ready to make a decision and would need more answers about authority and funding.
In addition to the flooding issues discussed at the county board meeting, the commissioners also dealt with the following issues.
Upon proposal by building maintenance supervisor Terry Schultz, the board approved a proposal from Quality Construction to construct a sound barrier for an air handling unit at the Fillmore County Office Building for $4,150. The board also approved a $1,090 installation of a gas line at the sheriff's office to provide backup heating to the new addition of the jailhouse.
In following the Social Services' directive to hire two eligibility workers and an office support specialist, the board approved hires to those positions in preparation for the expected influx of clients on Oct. 1, the date the Affordable Care Act goes into effect.
The board approved the purchase of a snow plow truck, which after a trade-in, costs over $92,000. A new crack filling kettle was purchased at $41,266. Gregg also received approval to award the traffic marking bid to Traffic Marking Services, Inc., for $70,416. The bid reflects four-inch striping to be done on priority roads being completed this summer.
The board approved the resignation of Deputy Sheriff Les Ladewig effective July 19 and the subsequent internal posting for his replacement.
Gregg told the board of an incident on County Road 24 on June 27, which affected nearly two miles of curing concrete. Two semi-trucks had ignored signs and cones placed at the end of the road by Lenora and drove onto the concrete, which was having its joints cut. Gregg said the county would be analyzing cores taken from the concrete to see the extent of the damage, but they didn't know much beyond that. Those responsible for the damage could possibly be fined.