Gov. Mark Dayton declared a state of emergency Thursday in response to severe weather in the past month that has caused flooding and property damage across much of Minnesota.

Gov. Mark Dayton declared a state of emergency Thursday in response to severe weather in the past month that has caused flooding and property damage across much of Minnesota.

Dayton's order applies to 36 counties and the Red Lake Indian Reservation. It cited a persistent weather pattern since June 9 that has generated a series of severe summer storms packing torrential rains, high winds and tornadoes, resulting in flash flooding. The governor's order directed state agencies to continue to assist affected local governments in responding to and recovering from the effects of the storms.

Big storms this week alone dumped 8 to 10 inches of rain in Murray, Brown, Redwood and Cottonwood counties of southern Minnesota, where flood warnings remain in place along several rivers and streams. While the Cottonwood River is starting to recede in Lamberton, it's been rising rapidly in New Ulm, where it has already reached major flood stage and was forecast to crest Friday.

Brown County evacuated an apartment complex in Springfield because of the rapidly rising water levels in the Cottonwood River. County officials said there had been no injuries. Displaced residents were placed in housing by the American Red Cross or were staying with relatives.

The Cottonwood flows into the Minnesota River, which had been falling but is now forecast to rise rapidly on its way toward crests this weekend or early next week in Mankato, Henderson and Jordan.

Meanwhile, the northern Minnesota city of Bemidji is cleaning up the damage from a Fourth of July tornado. The National Weather Service said the EF1 tornado touched down just west of Bemidji State University. It packed winds of 100 mph and caused significant damage to buildings and trees during its minute on the ground. No one was injured.