Emergency management crews team up for Taopi clean up

(ABC 6 News) – As the small town of Taopi continues to pick up the pieces and rebuild, emergency management crews have been there since the beginning to help with cleanup efforts.

Community members of Taopi and surrounding neighbors have come together after the tornado on Tuesday night to help clean up, but law enforcement and emergency management crews are also teaming up.

"We’re designed to help each other out in times of crisis and in an emergency. So, that’s kind of what we do," Rich Hall, Emergency Management Director for Freeborn County, said.

Region 1 Emergency Management consists of 16 counties. Olmsted, Dodge, Steele, Freeborn and Winona counties have all been coming to Taopi to assist in cleaning up and bringing in equipment that is needed.

"That’s what we do. That’s why we’re here. When somebody needs help we go especially when it’s an area without a lot of resources. We bring the resources in they need," Ben Klinger, Emergency Management Director for Winona County, said.

Winona County brought over a generator and a trailer with a light set up to use when there was no power in town. Freeborn County brought an Incident Command Trailer where they handle the planning, logistics and communications of the clean-up process.

"It’s something that we do where we need to work together. We realize we need to work together and take care of business," Hall said.

These emergency management teams meet monthly for training together. They then give back to those counties that have helped them during their disasters.

"A few years ago I had to request help from the region with a missing person so emergency managers from all over the region came to Winona county to help so now it’s my turn to go somewhere and help somebody else," Klinger said.

"Counties have always come to help us and so it feels good to repay and help other counties out with their emergencies," Kristen Sailer, Director of Emergency and Risk Management for Steele County, said.

Steele County has been responsible for coordinating the volunteers who help clean up one step at a time.

"We’re just taking it a house at a time. So once one house is done then we’ll move on to the next until we can get to everybody," Sailer said.

Emergency management crews said the clean-up process is still going to take a while.