Walz Surveys Local Storm Damage

July 11, 2019 07:02 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- As we continue to follow the aftermath of the flooding in Dodge and western Olmsted County, Gov. Tim Walz toured some of the damage Thursday morning.

"The purpose of this is for us to get a good feel for what is happening here, and to hear about what the need is and then for you to hear about it from the state's perspective of what the response will be,” said Walz.

He met with legislators and county officials to learn more about the damage caused by storms at the end of June and the beginning of July.

"By the time we are done looking at both storms together, and some of the repairs that were repaired once and then washed out, flooded again, and now having to be repaired a second time, we're gonna have to be pushing a million to a million and a half range,” said Dodge County PSAP Emergency Management Director Matthew Maas.

He said that’s the cost of damage from public infrastructure alone.

“I don't see right now that we are going to qualify for FEMA for either public infrastructure or help with individual homes,” said Joe Kelly, director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

He added that there is a statewide program that could help.

"We have a program in Minnesota for disaster relief, absent federal aid: When it's big enough to hurt a community like yours but it doesn't rise to the level where the federal government is going to get involved. I never make predictions, but I'll make one today cause this is obvious that state disaster assistance will clearly be given to help Dodge County, the townships, and the cities in the cost of repairing that damaged infrastructure,” he said.

But in Kasson, Mayor Chris McKern said the pressing issue is the 170 homes damaged by the storm.

"Even though some of the houses weren't destroyed or washed away, there's a couple dozen that are pretty much uninhabitable and will take significant dollars to fix," he said.

Like Bonnie Ryan’s home, which flooded twice this summer.

"It was already coming up through the toilet, the shower; I ran downstairs to see if I could save anything. I couldn’t,” she said. “Then we got hit last Friday when we had that rain. We got everything cleaned up, bleached," she said.

That caused about $40,000 in damages.

She said she’s happy the governor made the trip to Dodge County.

"That was very good to just come and see what everyone is going through," she said, but added that she was upset to learn that financial assistance for homeowners would not be the immediate priority. 

"Well, when winter comes, what are you supposed to do when you can't afford to buy a furnace?” she said. 

"This is a much more challenging one,” said Walz. “We know Red Cross and local agencies are out there, because we know one of the problems we have is a lot of flooded basements. We think the small business administration will be here to provide low-interest, or in the department of agriculture, maybe no-interest loans.”

Bonnie said that what she is really looking for is a long-term solution to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

"When are we gonna be able to have our homes back? Currently everyone on our block, our homes are worth nothing if we go to sell. We just want our homes back,” she said.


Talia Milavetz

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