By Kristine Kern
Review Staff Writer
On April 26th Governor Mark Dayton sent a request to President Obama requesting he declare a major disaster for the State of Minnesota as a result of the ice storm that raged through southwest Minnesota April 9-11th. In his request Governor Dayton wrote “widespread loss of power affected electric, heat, and water service to homes, schools, businesses and fire stations. Whole communities were effectively shut down for several days, with limited public services and virtually no private amenities. Thousands of detached and hanging tree branches, known collogically as “widow makers,” blocked roadways and presented a significant safety hazard.”
President Obama responded May 3rd declaring a major federal disaster for Cottonwood, Jackson, Murray, Nobles and Rock Counties. Preliminary figures project the following costs and damages: $3.2 million in debris removal, $3.7 million for emergency protective measures, $41,500 for building and equipment, $19 million for parks and recreational facilities and $60,550 for other facilities. Again these are preliminary figures that officials are still looking into the may go up or down slightly as more figures come in.
Local communities are still learning details regarding FEMAS involvement. The disaster declaration means certain expenses incurred by public and non-profit private entities will be reimbursed 75%. Adrian City Clerk, Bruce Heitkamp stated “we (our crews and community service groups)are now concentrating on cleaning up what we can . We’ll probably be bidding out a more extensive cleanup effort (of our parks) with tree removal and limb trimming later this spring.
Right now we are getting more education from FEMA on the correct way of doing things; so we can get reimbursement. We know from past disasters that you have to document things a certain way and use the right people to get reimbursed.”
Ellsworth Mayor Tasha Domeyer stated “The beauty and cleanliness of the City of Ellsworth has been temporarily tarnished by the ice storm; so many trees have been damaged and destroyed. We hope to preserve what we have left. The FEMA funds will hopefully replenish our funds.”
FEMA representatives informed the public entities that all expenses will initially be coming out of the pockets of the cities and townships. Any reimbursement may take years to collect from FEMA. Heitkamp goes on to say “we are using local resources as of now; with keeping the financial bottom line in mind. City Hall has the names of contractors who have obtained permits. I think we can clean up much of this with local resources. I believe that will go a long way to get the Park’s Department opened up safely this weekend. We want Mother’s Day and Graduation Parties to go off without a hitch.”
It’s been said before and will continue to be the theme of the storm aftermath, clean-up will takes time. Broken limbs and snapped power poles can still be seen but improvements can be seen each day thanks to the hardwork of residents, towns and townships throughout the area.