NEW ULM, MN - With water levels continuing to reach extreme highs in cities and towns across southwest Minnesota, the need for relief is a priority.

Throughout the day, Senator Amy Klobuchar and Representative Collin Peterson received a first–hand look at what neighborhoods like Tracy, Windom and New Ulm are experiencing.

Also joined by Representative Tim Walz, the three spoke with local officials and emergency responders to evaluate the destruction Mother Nature has left behind.

Walz says "It's to get a sense of what kind of damage do we have to public infrastructure, how many houses do we have wet. Obviously, the first thing is checking the welfare of everyone. Have they been moved out of places that are flooding?"

On Thursday, Governor Mark Dayton signed an Emergency Executive Order proclaiming a State of Peacetime Emergency for 36 Minnesota counties.

While some communities have been hit harder than others, the city of New Ulm is proud to showcase that its flooding mitigation project, developed in 2010, has performed exceptionally.

New Ulm police commander Dave Borchert says "These mitigation efforts are a cost–effective and safe way to deal with floods. It's money well spent and I really appreciate them joining is today and being able to see that first hand."

The effort allows the excess water to flow through nearby Adams Park and around the overpass, preserving the Cottonwood Street Bridge and in turn has paid back the city roughly four times since its installment according to Borchert.

As for smaller communities, assistance plans to come in the form of money with Senator Klobuchar expecting statewide damages to meet the threshold of $7.7 million when federal aid kicks and allow towns like Tracy and Windom to fund efforts mirroring New Ulm to protect their communities from future flooding.

Klobuchar says "When we get the FEMA aid and we will, maybe not for every single county but definitely the state, that means you can also apply for mitigation projects which means things like this that lessen the damage."

The Federal Aid also qualifies cities and towns for payment of public infrastructure, with 75 percent of the costs coming from the federal government and the other 25 percent from the state, taking a load off the backs of taxpayers.

Monday, Representative Walz will join Governor Mark Dayton and Senator Julie Rosen when they visit Windom, Jackson and Blue Earth to assess the storm damage themselves.

FIRST STOP: CITY OF WINDOM

Meeting Time:             10:00am

Meeting Location:       Windom Emergency Services Facility, 938 5th Avenue, Windom, MN 56101

 

SECOND STOP: CITY OF JACKSON

Meeting Time:             11:30am

Meeting Location:       Jackson City Hall, 80 West Ashley Street, Jackson, MN 56143

THIRD STOP: CITY OF BLUE EARTH

Meeting Time:             1:45pm

Meeting Location:       City of Blue Earth Fire Hall, 120 South Walnut Street, Blue Earth, MN 56013

- KEYC NEWS 12