Damage toll climbs to 200 buildings

Published 11:00 am Monday, June 21, 2010

The number of buildings across Freeborn County damaged by Thursday evening’s tornadoes has increased to 200, according to assessment numbers released this morning by the Freeborn County chapter of the American Red Cross.

According to a St. Marys Hospital spokeswoman in Rochester, Ron Woodside, the husband of Katherine A. Woodside, remains in serious condition. Katherine died Thursday from injuries sustained when a tornado struck their home northwest of Armstrong.

Freeborn County Administrator John Kluever said county officials met at 7 a.m. today to discuss updates about damage and cleanup efforts across the county.

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Kluever said out of 200 structures that have been damaged, 40 were completely destroyed, 30 had major damage, 81 had minor damage and 49 were affected.

He said the Federal Emergency Management Agency uses the Red Cross numbers for damage assessments. Freeborn County staff are also assessing the damage, based on the Minnesota building codes.

As people are cleaning up during the aftermath, the biggest issue facing the county currently is what to do with debris, he said.

“The temptation is to put a match to it,” Kluever said. “I think mentally or emotionally, people might want to not see it anymore.”

However, he encouraged people to make sure to burn properly and contact Freeborn County Environmental Services to get a burn permit. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is coming to the county to collect liquid propane tanks.

To get a burn permit or to find out about other emergency resources, people can contact the county hotline number at 379-2979.

He said if people are going into fields and pulling debris out, they should leave it at least 15 feet off the road.

The county is working to replace damaged signs, including stop signs.

Kluever noted Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is still waiting on confirmation on the federal level regarding an emergency declaration. Pawlenty toured the damage via helicopter on Friday. The county administrator anticipated FEMA officials being in town Tuesday.

He said the Freeborn County Assessor’s Office will be out in full force this morning, with a dollar value of damages expected later in the week.

He did not have an update on any of the injured.

Kluever said he hoped to obtain more information about the injured later in the day.