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Dayton requests presidential disaster declaration

Published 3:48pm Wednesday, July 9, 2014

By Albert Lea Tribune and Associated Press

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is citing more than $55 million in public response costs and infrastructure damage in a formal application for federal disaster aid stemming from June’s widespread flooding, mudslides and high winds.

Dayton made the request Wednesday in a letter to President Barack Obama. The governor noted that Minnesota recorded its wettest June on record and that flooding affected 51 of the state’s 87 counties.

The request aims to free up money to fix public assets, remove debris and cover the costs of emergency response. Not all of the damage is eligible, but so far state and federal assessments have documented $10.8 million that should be.

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.

Representatives with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state Homeland Security for Emergency Management were in Albert Lea Tuesday documenting preliminary estimated damages to townships, cities and Freeborn County.

Damages and costs in Freeborn County as of Wednesday were $1 million, according to Emergency Management Director Rich Hall. That number was expected to rise.

Most of the damage reported by local officials is to roads and bridges.

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.

Separately, Dayton announced that Minnesota would get up to $5 million in federal highway dollars to fix flood-damaged roads.