Resource center slated to open next week to help residents affected by floodwaters

Published 10:13 am Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Freeborn County residents with flooding damage from heavy rain last month will be able to look for resources to help with cleanup on Monday.

A multi-agency resource center will be in place from 4 to 8 p.m. at United Methodist Church in Albert Lea.

Freeborn County Emergency Management Director Rich Hall discussed the planned resource center and provided a flood update Tuesday to the Freeborn County Board of Commissioners.

Rich Hall

Rich Hall

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He said the center will allow individuals to find resources to address flood damage and help volunteer agencies as they seek to provide resources. It will give the agencies a more definitive number of essential items damaged, such as water heaters, washers and dryers.

A list of agencies who will be at the resource center was not available as of press time.

Damage in Freeborn County from flooding is estimated at more than $1.7 million.

The eastbound lanes of East Main Street near Fountain Lake reopened Tuesday, and the westbound lanes are expected to open late today or Thursday, according to a Minnesota Department of Transportation press release. A road near Alden — 190th Street — also remains closed.

Main Street, also known as U.S. Highway 65, is the only state highway in southeast Minnesota to remain closed from the flooding.

The Pearl Street and Elizabeth Avenue intersection was expected to reopen today.

Hall said he has has been holding a daily phone call with volunteer agencies to coordinate cleanup efforts.

He discussed the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division’s request Monday for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to conduct preliminary damage estimates in 10 Minnesota counties — including Freeborn County.

Board Chairman Jim Nelson said the flooding was the worst he has ever seen in the region.

“I’ve never, out of the whole time I have lived here, and that’s been my whole life … have seen the river that high,” he said.

Gov. Mark Dayton declared a peacetime state of emergency last week, and the state emergency operations center has been partially activated to work with local officials since the rains began.

Albert Lea staff have been working with Freeborn County and other local jurisdictions and meetings to help them account for numbers to warrant any declarations.

Albert Lea City Manager Chad Adams said FEMA officials will meet with them week. The event is being coordinated through the governor’s office and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

Adams said he is not sure if the city will receive federal funding.

“We’re asking a lot of those questions, but we have not received any verification on that yet,” he said.

Anyone with flooding damage is advised to contact the United Way at 800-543-7709.

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About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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