OLIVIA — The Renville County board of commissioners declared a state of emergency on Tuesday in hopes of obtaining state financial assistance with the damage inflicted by the mega-rain event that struck the county’s southeast corner Saturday night and Sunday morning.
Mike Hennen, the county’s emergency manager, told the commissioners that he’s already aware of $154,000 in damages “with plenty more to come.” Water levels are still too high in many areas to allow a county team to fully assess the damage.
The largest share of the costs belong to ditch systems, representing $94,000 of the initial total. A county teaming looking at the damage counted 18 washouts on the smaller ditch systems they were able to investigate. The waters are still too high to see the possible damage in the larger ditches, Hennen said.
There was also damage to county and township roads, as well as a railroad line.
Hennen doesn’t believe the damage in Minnesota from this event was great enough to obtain a federal disaster declaration, which requires a minimum of $7 million in total damages. He’s confident it will meet the state requirement as the damage costs in Renville and neighboring counties are tallied. If approved, the state would be responsible for 75 percent of the damage costs, and the local governments 25 percent.
The event has been classified as a “mega-rain event” by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the state’s first since 2016. By 9 p.m. Saturday, the storm system was already dropping heavy rains from Fairfax in Renville County and southeasterly for two to four hours.
A weather observer south of Mankato reported 8.65 inches of rain, and a gauge at Fort Ridgely State Park showed 7.77 inches. Based on radar, the DNR reports that rainfall totals close to 10-inches may have hit an area with no observations, from southeast Renville County to southwest Sibley County.
The mega-rain event brought six or more inches of water to a roughly 1,000 square mile area.
The state has recorded 21 mega-rain events since 1858, with the last 14 occurring since 1983, according to the DNR.