Archived Story

Municipal flood damage totals $190,000

Published 9:30am Friday, October 1, 2010

Federal Emergency Management Agency officials were in Freeborn County on Thursday, and preliminary estimates show that there was about $189,708 in damages to infrastructure countywide.

This total includes estimated damages in the public infrastructure of Freeborn County, seven townships, the cities of Albert Lea, Alden, Hartland, Freeborn, Hollandale and the county ditch authority. These are not estimates of private, individual home damages.

Jon Kluever

According to Freeborn County Administrator John Kluever, FEMA agents are collecting preliminary damage assessments from all 35 counties in Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s emergency declaration last week following heavy rains that caused widespread flooding across southern Minnesota.

Kluever said Freeborn County estimates will be rolled into preliminary damage assessments from all 35 counties and submitted to Pawlenty in coming days to determine if these counties qualify for public assistance.

The Tribune gathered this information before press time this morning. See the Sunday edition for an expanded version.

Red Cross continues services

A week after record rainfalls caused widespread flooding across the county, the Freeborn County Chapter of the American Red Cross continues its work to help those affected by the water.

According to Jeanie Opdahl, director of the Freeborn County chapter, she and 10 local volunteers have assessed 80 homes across the county over the past week.

Opdahl estimated that of her team’s assessments, Freeborn and Hollandale were the two communities hardest hit in Freeborn County.

“In Freeborn, almost all the houses had water backup,” she said. “Quite a few with sewer.”

Opdahl said none of the homes they assessed were completely destroyed by water.

“We’re finding a lot of houses in Albert Lea had large amounts of water, over a foot, in basements and quite a number with sewer backup,” she said.

Opdahl also said that she and her volunteers have handed out about 40 cleanup kits. Each kit includes gloves, cleaner, disinfectant, a squeegee, broom, mop and bucket, along with cleanup instruction sheets.

Red Cross volunteers are also distributing booklets about repairing flooded homes. Opdahl said the county chapter continues to work with people across the county every day on cleanup efforts.

“It’s very, very important that even if it was clean water in your basement, you dry it out and disinfect or you’re going to get mold,” she said.

She also advised removing paneling and sheet rock that was immersed in flood water.

“That will act as a wick. The front might seem dry but those studs will stay damp and get mold,” she added.

Although the Red Cross office here in Freeborn County is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, Opdahl said if people call ahead of time, she is glad to stay later to help those in need.

The American Red Cross Southeast Minnesota Chapter, which includes the Freeborn County Chapter, reported this week that preliminary assessment teams have found approximately 5,000 dwellings in a 16-county region (including Freeborn County) were affected by the flooding.

Of these dwellings, 59 were reported “permanently uninhabitable” and over 200 others have major damage that will require extensive repairs.

New Richland was cited as one of the region’s hardest hit communities.

The southeast Minnesota chapter also reported that nearly 200 staff and volunteers across the region offered support to about 3,000 people, 3,500 meals and snacks were served, and emergency shelters offered safety to more than 100 people.

According to Opdahl, the Freeborn County chapter of the American Red Cross opened an emergency shelter in Hollandale to accommodate one misplaced family on Saturday, Sept. 25, but that family ended up making other housing arrangements.