Flood recovery is under way

Published 9:10 am Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Albert Lea, Freeborn County governments take steps

Albert Lea city and Freeborn County officials discussed the next phase in flood cleanup on Monday morning.

Mark Roche

Freeborn County was one of 35 counties in Minnesota under Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s declaration of emergency due to heavy rains and flooding last week.

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The Albert Lea City Council signed a resolution Monday backing the county’s declaration of a major disaster. Freeborn County Administrator John Kluever expected that the Freeborn County Board of Commissioners will meet in a special session today to approve the same resolution.

According to Freeborn County Emergency Management Director Mark Roche, this will allow the city and county to seek access to FEMA funds to help with damages suffered in last week’s flooding.

Steven Jahnke

He encourages anyone with damages from the flood, property owners and tenants, to contact the American Red Cross for an assessment and cleanup kits, because those are the numbers that will help determine if enough damage has been done in Albert Lea and Freeborn County to possibly gain individual assistance from FEMA funding.

In additional updates, Dan Kenison of the Freeborn County Engineer’s Office announced that all county roads are open and all of the gravel has been hauled, placed and bladed. He said some small washouts on the edges of a few roads will be completed this week, during the regular road grading routes. County Road 13 east of Glenville, he said, was the only area that still had high water levels near the road.

Jon Kluever

Albert Lea City Engineer Steve Jahnke said lake levels were going down with the exception of Albert Lea Lake, which he said crested Monday. East Main Street in Albert Lea — U.S. Highway 65 — remain closed, but he said that once Albert Lea Lake recedes, so will the water over that roadway.

Freeborn County Sheriff Mark Harig noted that a drive Sunday by Hollandale didn’t mark anything unusual with drainage ditches.

Wayne Sorenson of the county’s Environmental Services wanted to remind the public that homeowners concerned about flood damages can call them, and they will go out and conduct inspections at no charge.

Jeanie Opdahl, director of the Freeborn County chapter of the American Red Cross, said the Red Cross assessed damages in Hartland, Geneva, Hollandale and Freeborn over the weekend. She said at least six homes in Freeborn received sewer backup, some with levels as high as four feet. She said they left flood cleanup kits in those communities.

Mark Harig

Opdahl also said the Red Cross opened a shelter in Hollandale to accommodate one misplaced family, but that family ended up making other housing arrangements.

The county hot line for flooding issues and questions, 507-377-5229, will remain open the next couple of days, and people wishing to obtain cleanup kits should call the Red Cross at 373-4544 or the Salvation Army at 373-5710.