State of emergency declared in Albert Lea, Freeborn County

Published 8:44 pm Monday, June 24, 2024

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Both the city of Albert Lea and Freeborn County have now declared a state of emergency as a result of the recent heavy rains starting June 16 and continuing through the weekend.

In his proclamation Monday night, Albert Lea Mayor Rich Murray said the flooding has caused a significant amount of public property and infrastructure damage in the city of Albert Lea and that conditions have worsened because of the rain events.

The declaration invokes the city’s disaster plan and opens opportunities for the city to possibly receive disaster funds if a certain threshold is met at the county level.

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According to official readings at the Albert Lea Wastewater Treatment Plant, the city saw 7.24 inches of rain fall since June 16, with the heaviest amount of rain coming on Saturday with 2.72 inches.

The Freeborn County Board of Commissioners approved their emergency declaration Tuesday in an emergency session.

Emergency Management Director Rich Hall said as of Tuesday morning there had already been $1.3 million to $1.5 million in public infrastructure damages throughout the county, between townships, cities and the county.

He said he will continue to reach out to all of the local entities to gather damage estimates and will be putting together a preliminary damage assessment of both public and private damages.

Fourth District Commissioner Chris Shoff asked if Hall was notified anytime a city has to bypass the sanitary sewer, and he said he is, along with the state duty officer. During this rain event, he said he was notified that the cities of Freeborn, Clarks Grove, Glenville and Albert Lea were in bypass at some point.

Third District Commissioner John Forman brought up the retention ponds built on Main Street in Albert Lea where it is flooded and noted how it was always known that if the city got 8 to 10 inches of rain in a short amount of time, it would likely still flood.

Hall said the retention ponds put in by the state are designed to hold water but noted how this has been an unprecedented event.

“I don’t remember a time in my career where in our southeast region, 14 of 16 counties have been affected,” Hall said. “And the number of counties throughout the state that have been affected. This is really an unprecedented event.”

Forman also asked if any funds would be available to help with repairs on Bridge Avenue in the future because of all of the traffic that has had to be diverted onto that road from Main Street because of the flooding.

Hall said if there is direct damage due to the event, it can be tied into this event. Otherwise, with every FEMA event, the county also receives some mitigation money that it could be used for.