By Lauren Perry &
Fallout from June’s flash flood event continues to trickle around Houston County – for businesses, for agencies and for farmers.
Over at the Root River Soil and Water Conservation Office, Ron Meiners, district manager, said his office is taking calls every day and assessing damages in the agriculture sector. “Those numbers continue to pile up,” he told the county board. “We get calls everyday asking where to go, who to call, who to talk to – it’s confusing for us and confusing for them.”
Not helping producers is a very wet start to the growing season and commodity prices. “Commodity prices have pushed Houston County to the limit,” Meiners said.
On the positive side, the county board agreed on June 25 to solicit the state for Emergency Water Protection Program funds, which may help some farmers.
“It was a unique flood – it came with such velocity,” Meiners said.
Local business owner Mike Staggemeyer of Staggemeyer Stave originally anticipated $400,000 in damage to products and two weeks worth of lost production for his company due to flooding.
“It might not be that high, and we’re already back up running, but we’ll spend most of the summer fixing the damage,” Staggemeyer said. This business is no stranger to the disaster that floods can bring.
“Last time this happened it was March and it was October before it was cleaned up.”
Although flooding is an act of Mother Nature, Staggemeyer says he feels it is preventable to some extent. There are a number of flood barriers that could be installed to stop the flooding, but there are people who won’t allow it, Staggemeyer said.
Camp Winnebago has had a long history of flooding. The location was greatly effected in 2007, 2008 and 2010.
“We’ve never fully recovered from previous flooding,” Camp Director Barbara Cage said.
After a week of intense flooding, Cage reported that the lower campground of Camp Winnebago has been severely damaged. “That’s where all fishing, sports, games, boating and tenting is done.”
“The flooding on the lower campground effects everything.” There is approximately three feet of water in the camp’s main barn, which was declared surface damage and not covered by insurance. That, combined with the serious damage to the lower campground, which includes debris and things that have simply floated away, make camp directors nervous about the recovery of Camp Winnebago. With an ample amount of volunteers and monetary donations, Cage says the camp could likely be up and running within a few weeks.
FEMA representatives will be meeting with county officials this week to continue to evaluate damage sustained the weekend of June 22. Houston County continues to seek disaster assistance from three sources, including the state, the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the federal government.
Governor Mark Dayton included 26 counties in a disaster declaration July 3.
On the federal side, a threshold of $7.26 million must be met to qualify for FEMA aid. Combined damages with Fillmore County have the incident costing about $8.7 million.
“Our flooding this time around isn’t going to cause the same long-term effects the 2007 flood did,” County Engineer Brian Pogodzinski told the county board July 2.
That said, portions of County Hwy. 25 and 12 remain closed indefinitely.