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Redwood Falls Gazette
  • Deluge dilemma: flood damage toll high in county

  • For the fifth time in the past decade, Jim Sandgren, Redwood County emergency management director, has been traveling around Redwood County and speaking with other public officials about disaster damage....
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  • For the fifth time in the past decade, Jim Sandgren, Redwood County emergency management director, has been traveling around Redwood County and speaking with other public officials about disaster damage. “Four of the five times have been for flooding,” said Sandgren, adding the fifth was the wind damage in July 2011. Sandgren collected damage estimates from June flooding, which he recently submitted to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA is going to determine whether or not the county is eligible receive financial assistance for needed repairs to public infrastructure, such as roads and bridges. According to Sandgren, the threshold for assistance is just over $50,000, adding reaching that number is not going to be an issue. Estimates in Red-wood Falls alone have exceeded $200,000. There are areas, including Belview, that were hit much harder by recent flooding, with some reports exceeding seven inches of rain in one event. 
    According to Lori Ryer, Belview city clerk, the impact of the heavy rain was substantial in some locations. “There were some kids out canoeing on the athletic field,” said Ryer, adding the city maintenance worker spent a lot of hours during and after the rain keeping an eye on the lift station. “Since the floods I have been busy fielding phone calls from people.” Ryer said people got busy soon after the flooding taking care of water in their basements, adding there were some more significant issues in some homes – including one report of a collapsed wall. While FEMA funds are available for public infrastructure, there is not money available for privately owned property. There have also been many reports of people who contacted their insurance company only it find out the type of insurance they had did not cover the damage from flooding. It is important for home and business owners to ensure that information is clarified for the future. After all, those once in 500 year flood events are happening a lot more often. According to Sandgren, once FEMA has determined the damage threshold has been met it is going to host a meeting to talk with city, county and township leaders regarding the damage and the funding available for repairs. Sandgren said he is not sure when that meeting is going to take place, but he is going to let people know when and where they need to be in attendance.

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