Almost $7 million in tornado damage

Published 12:38 pm Thursday, June 24, 2010

Freeborn County has compiled a list of all the properties affected by the June 17 tornado outbreak. The county assessor’s office is estimating the damage of homes and outbuildings to be almost $7 million.

Agents from the Federal Emergency Management Agency were in the county Tuesday and Wednesday assessing damage. They also met with county employees, township staff and mayors from throughout Freeborn County to estimate damage costs. FEMA will compile their information and send it to Gov. Tim Pawlenty who then has the option to ask for aid from the federal government.

“Now it’s just a waiting game to see what happens at the governor’s level and the federal level,” County Administrator John Kluever said Thursday morning at the Freeborn County Courthouse.

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Kluever said the list of properties damaged in Freeborn County totals 199 separate properties with any kind of structure damage. Separately, the county defined how each building was damaged. The two categories for buildings are homes, which includes dwellings and garages, and outbuildings, which includes barns, sheds and any other building that’s not a residence.

There were 32 homes that were destroyed, 30 homes sustained major damage, 78 had minor damage and 52 were affected. The county assessor’s office estimates the damage of homes at almost $4.7 million. There were 52 outbuildings destroyed, 22 sustained major damage and 42 had minor damage. The county assessor’s office estimates the damage of outbuildings of more than $2 million.

Kluever said those estimated costs are based on assessed values and are not an estimate of what it will cost to replace buildings and structures. Replacement costs will be much higher and difficult to define because people might not necessarily build the exact structures that were destroyed.

The Salvation Army as of Wednesday night has served 7,894 meals, 14,415 drinks and 6,001 snacks with a total of 12,596 people served.

“They’re doing a wonderful job,” Kluever said.

He also said there was no estimate for cleanup costs, but FEMA is probably compiling a final cost in their report for the governor. Randy Tuchtenhagen, director of Environmental Services in Freeborn County, said that his office has received a lot of calls about what to do with debris.

“We haven’t run into private insurance not paying for debris removal,” Tuchtenhagen said. “To my knowledge they traditionally pay for that.”

Tuchtenhagen suggested that people with debris hire private waste removal companies. He said that as far as he knows they haven’t been overwhelmed yet with calls for help. Tuchtenhagen’s office also issues free burn permits. He recommends this as a course of action only if people burn properly.

“We’re not coordinating site for people to pile things up,” Tuchtenhagen said. “It’s a waste of time and effort to pile it in places and then move it again.”

He said conservation officers will give tickets if they find people burning restricted items. His office is also sending a letter to all 199 properties affected by the storms last week. The letter will tell property owners to get their building permit applications to his office as soon as possible.

“Some people have already applied for permits to build new homes,” Tuchtenhagen said.

The letter will also include an information sheet about Freeborn County’s special hazardous waste collection on July 1. The Environmental Services Office will have people in the Conger area from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m., the Manchester area from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the Clarks Grove area from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. They will also go to each of the 200 properties to collect items for pickup. Items include batteries, chemicals, paints, cleaners and many other things. Contact the Freeborn County Environmental Services Office at 507-377-5186 with questions. Pallets and 5-gallon pails are available for people who need them for storage by calling 507-377-5186.