County leaders seek recovery aid

Published 4:42 pm Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mayors and officials of cities and townships in Freeborn County affected by last week’s tornadoes briefly met with Federal Emergency Management Agency officials on Wednesday, submitting estimates regarding the damage to public infrastructure, roads and right of way, along with estimates for what it took township, city or county staff to clear right of ways.

This was the second day FEMA officials have been in Freeborn County.

Freeborn County Administrator John Kluever said the leaders of each city and township affected by the June 17 tornadoes had to fill out paperwork for their particular jurisdiction.

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That paperwork, along with damage assessments of small businesses and individual properties taken on Tuesday, will be combined with estimates from the other six affected counties in Minnesota.

The information, combined in a report, will be submitted to Gov. Tim Pawlenty. After reading the report if Pawlenty decides local and state government cannot provide enough aid for recovery then he could submit a request for aid from the president.

The Freeborn County Fire Association and the Freeborn County chapter of the American Red Cross is organizing volunteers to go out and pick up tornado debris from area farm fields on Saturday.

People need to sign up at the Red Cross office, 373-4544, if they are interested.

Buses will leave from Hammer Field between 7:15 and 7:30 a.m. Saturday.

Volunteers are asked to wear sturdy shoes or boots, long pants and gloves.

Food and water will be provided for those volunteering.

— Geri McShane, assistant editor

If federal resources become available, those could include the following: personnel, equipment, supplies, facilities and technical assistance necessary to protect public safety and health and to restore essential services; temporary disaster housing assistance; low-interest loans for repair or replacement of real or personal property, as well as assistance for business owners; replacement grants to help meet serious disaster-related needs and expenses not met by insurance or other programs; and disaster umemployment assistance.

Kluever said FEMA officials did not give a timeline of when residents and county leaders can expect to hear back on a federal level; however, the officials did hope to get their report submitted right away, either Wednesday or Thursday.

The teams that visited Freeborn County comprise personnel from FEMA Region V, which serves Minnesota and five other states in the Midwest, the state’s emergency management agency and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The visit follows Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s declaration of a state of emergency in seven counties across the state, including Freeborn, Faribault and Steele counties.

The storms on June 17 resulted in an unprecedented number of tornadoes that touched down in the state. Three people were killed — including Tribune employee Kathy Woodside in Freeborn County.

The tornadoes spawned three EF4 tornadoes across the state, among several others.

These were the first EF4 or F4 or stronger tornadoes in the state since the Granite Falls tornado of July 25, 2000, according to the National Weather Service. The Enhanced Fujita Scale came into use beginning in 2007. Prior, weather agencies used the Fujita Scale.

Freeborn County’s EF4 tornado that struck the Conger, Armstrong and Manchester area on Thursday was the first EF4 or F4 tornado in Freeborn County since Black Sunday on April 30, 1967.