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Grove City, Minn., receives mutual aid to help with storm-damaged utilities

WILLMAR -- A statewide emergency network that helps communities deal with municipal infrastructure issues caused by severe storms and flood helped Grove City get its services back up and running after a severe storm last month.

"You have to give a lot of credit to a lot of people. It worked out well," said Dave Martins, a 37-year Grove City public works employee. "At first I was skeptical, but now I'm a believer."

The Minnesota Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network is a formal emergency response program for mutual aid for water, wastewater and stormwater utilities that have sustained physical damage from natural or man-made disasters.

Most of the networks 270 members are municipalities.

After a severe windstorm June 17 knocked out power to Grove City, the local utility department had no choice but to bypass raw sewage into a wetland adjacent to a small lake.

Grove City was without power for nearly a week.

A city generator powered the city's water supply, but pumps activating sewage treatment sat quiet. The following Monday the city administrator called the network and help arrived Tuesday.

"All I had to do was show them where we needed help, and they took the bull by the horns. Things really fell into place," Martins said.

The city of Paynesville supplied a large, portable generator to get the sewage treatment plant running again. Willmar and Litchfield sent utility workers.

Hutchinson and Montrose sent crews to remove trees, debris and downed power lines. Several other communities also offered assistance.