Special session will address disaster relief

Jeremy Miller

State Senator District 28

Last week, legislative leaders and the Governor agreed to hold a Special Session on Monday, Sept. 9, 2013, to address disaster relief for 18 counties that were hit by severe storms, straight-line winds and flooding between June 20 and 26, 2013. The counties affected and receiving disaster relief are Benton, Big Stone, Douglas, Faribault, Fillmore, Freeborn, Grant, Hennepin, Houston, McLeod, Morrison, Pope, Sibley, Stearns, Stevens, Swift, Travers and Wilkin.

Following the storms, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) teams were brought in to conduct preliminary damage assessments. The total damage estimate for the state of Minnesota was $17,880,840, nearly two-and-one half times the minimum statewide indicator for federal assistance.

While many communities throughout the state were severely impacted by these storms, counties in southeastern Minnesota were hit hardest and reported the most damage. Specifically, flash flooding throughout Houston County damaged 24 county bridges and 25 township bridges and approximately 36 miles of township roads were closed due to washouts.

Houston County experienced the most damage of all 18 counties at nearly $6.46 million. Neighboring Fillmore County experienced $1.96 million in damages due to flash flooding. Both counties are still recovering from damage to roads and bridges caused by flooding in 2007 and 2008.

The federal disaster declaration signed by President Obama on July 25, 2013, paved the way for federal aid to help with recovery and rebuilding efforts. However, federal aid must also be partly matched by a 25 percent local contribution, which requires legislative authorization. The legislature will allocate approximately $4.5 million during the Special Session, which will be available to local governments for their emergency work, including repair or replacement of facilities damaged in the storms, debris removal, protective measures and repair of roads, bridges and water control facilities.

The details of the Special Session disaster relief bill will were worked out Aug. 28 in a joint Senate and House Finance Committee meeting, which I am planning to attend.

I am looking forward to working with members from both bodies to provide disaster relief. We have a rich tradition of supporting Minnesota communities after natural disasters, and we want to continue that tradition.

As always, if you have any questions, comments or concerns please do not hesitate to contact my office at 651-296-5649 or [email protected] It is an honor to serve as your State Senator.




State Senator Jeremy Miller represents District 28.