ST. PAUL - Now that the floodwaters are receding, counties and communities in western Minnesota can start figuring out what the bill is for all the damage.
State, local and federal officials will begin assessing the damage in 50 counties and four tribal nations this coming week in the wake of the severe weather and flooding experienced this spring, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. Big Stone, Chippewa, Swift, Renville, Yellow Medicine and Redwood counties and the Upper Sioux Community near Granite Falls are among the areas to be assessed.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Homeland Security and Emergency Management division will join the Federal Emergency Management Agency in conducting the assessments.
Statewide, the initial damage total exceeds $32 million for the period March 12 through April 29, according to the Department of Public Safety.
Continued wet conditions have hindered the ability of local counties to assess the full extent of damage.
In Yellow Medicine County, Emergency Management Director Casey Namkan said the initial damage is approaching $2 million. He anticipates the actual total will be higher once it's possible to reach areas still affected by the water. Township officials have told him that this is one of the worst years they have ever seen.
Lac qui Parle County has tallied up $550,000 worth of damages, according to Blain Johnson, emergency management director.
The preliminary assessment that will get underway this coming week with federal and state help is critical, as it will document eligible damages for federal assistance. The assessments are needed for Gov. Tim Walz to request a major disaster declaration for public assistance under the Stafford Act.
The assessment will look only at damage to public property, such as bridges, roads, parks and utilities. It will likely take several weeks to put all of the assessments together, according to the Department of Public Safety.
In this region, the assessment will get underway Wednesday in Lac qui Parle and Swift counties. It will continue on Thursday in Yellow Medicine County and the Upper Sioux Community and on Friday in Chippewa and Renville counties.