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Renville County, Minn., looking for cots for emergency center

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news Willmar, 56201

Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

OLIVIA — Renville County has played host to stranded motorists in two different storms this winter season, and is preparing to do so for many more, but absent the Minnesota National Guard Armory in Olivia.

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The city of Olivia learned prior to the last major snowstorm that federal rules require that the governor of the state approve the use of Minnesota National Guard Armories or its resources during emergencies.

As a result, the city had designated its community center as its emergency shelter, a role the armory had played in countless winter storms prior.

The county is now looking to line up military cots to have available at designated emergency shelters throughout the county, Mike Hennen, emergency management director, told the Renville County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday.

Hennen said there are cots available in Hector, and they were put to use at the community center there during the last storm emergency.

He would like to have cots available at other communities, such as Olivia, Renville and Sacred Heart. All have designated their community centers as emergency shelters.

Olivia often hosts the largest numbers of stranded motorists.

It is the site of the first “road closed’’ flashing signals that motorists on U.S. Highway 212 encounter on trips west of the Twin Cities. Stranded motorists turn to the city for help once the 33 available hotel rooms in the city are filled.  

Hennen said there are 200 cots kept in Montevideo and 200 in Marshall for emergency needs in the region.

There is no means of obtaining them in a snow emergency.

He is hoping to acquire cots through a surplus military program or other sources to stock in the communities.

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