Crow Wing County assesses flood damage | BrainerdDispatch.com | Brainerd, Minnesota

Crow Wing County assesses flood damage

Individuals urged to contact officials to see if they are eligible for assistance

Posted: July 24, 2012 - 8:02pm

Water has receded but for families with flooded basements in Crow Wing County, the cleanup remains.

And there may be additional help for that.

John Bowen, county emergency management director, said preliminary assessments were made of 24 homes and 20 sustained significant damage, mainly related to basement flooding. The county reported a half a million dollars in road repair because of flooding.

During the heavy rainstorm in June, Crow Wing County crews were out repairing a washed out road and in between bringing rocks in to fill a breach found a car stranded there. The passengers had gotten out of the vehicle but were near the rushing water and one fell in and couldn’t get out.

County Administrator Tim Houle said staff got in the water and rescued the individual, not once but twice. Without that assistance, Houle said a drowning was likely.

“I’m pretty proud of them and wanted you to know,” Houle said.

Bowen said the Black Bear and Miller Lake areas — where residents sandbagged to protect homes — is now nearing normal levels. The Mississippi River level dropped significantly, which helps as the lakes feed water into the river.

“So that’s a really good sign,” Bowen said.

In other areas of the state, the flood damage was readily apparent. In Crow Wing County, homeowners may have had significant damage but it’s largely hidden behind house walls.

The county is trying to do more outreach so people who had flood damage may be eligible for financial assistance. The county’s assessors, with its property valuation and classification department, are assessing damages.

Bowen said the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is only looking at homesteaded property not seasonal for individual assistance programs. More information on individual assistance is expected next week.

Bowen said as of Tuesday morning, 34 applications for FEMA assistance were received from townships and cooperatives. The county is also reaching out to more townships to see if there are additional damages not yet reported.

Bowen said FEMA is sending eight representatives to assess damages.

One of the county’s cost drivers will come from efforts to protect the Black Bear Miller Lakes Levee near Trommald. Multiple pumps were running 24 hours a day to keep the lake levels from rising and flooding homes. Bowen said the cost, for pump rental and diesel fuel is about $55,000 and doesn’t account for staff time, which may add another $15,000 to $20,000.

It’s unclear if costs to pump water from the heavy May rainfall will be included, although counties, including the heavily storm damaged Cass County, are making that argument.

Brainerd received 8.92 inches of rain in May.

Bowen said not everything will be reimbursed, but having the disaster declaration and assistance will help.

Rob Hall, interim county highway engineer, said 100 sites sustained damage. The county isn’t chasing reimbursement for every washout it would have done maintenance on anyway, but is looking for help with larger losses, Hall said.

The Mississippi River has receded below flood stage at Aitkin, Brainerd and Fort Ripley.

In Brainerd, the river was at 9.73 feet as of Tuesday afternoon. Flood stage is 13 feet. In Aitkin, which sustained more of the flood damage in the region, the river was at 10.38 feet Tuesday below the minor flood stage of 12 feet.

Heavy rain, up to 3 inches, was in the forecast for Aitkin, Cass and Crow Wing counties Tuesday night with the National Weather Service in Duluth warning there could be ponding and flooding of small streams if the downpour arrives as expected with a line of storms, some of which could be severe.

RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, may be reached at 855-5852 or renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Dispatchbizbuzz.