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Rushford Village assesses flood damage

Fri, Aug 31st, 2007
Posted in Government

Rushford Village Mayor Gordon Johnson acknowledged that the figure $4.66 million was the city's "best seat of your pants guess" at flood losses in Rushford Village. "It depends if we need to replace a bridge or in some cases relocate a road," Johnson said.

The village held a special meeting of the city council on Thursday night, August 30, to assess damages and prepare for Tuesday's FEMA Public Assistance meeting in Lanesboro where cities, townships and county officials will learn how to apply for federal emergency dollars.

Kevin Graves, an engineer with WHKS of Rochester, presented a detailed aerial map outlining where major flood damage occurred. Flood damage in Rushford Village consisted of mud slides, debris removal, culvert erosion, roadway repair, slope erosion and lost road gravel. This included a hundred feet of asphalt lost on Ridgeview Road, a mudslide on Airport Road and slope erosion on Trout Spring Lane, to mention a few incidents.

Council member Dale Schwanke was concerned about how FEMA will help with repairs when roadways have been washed away and replaced with steep embankments.

"Some roadways will need to be relocated," Schwanke said. "We will need to convince FEMA that you can't just fill in a 100 foot embankment."

Mayor Johnson agreed, "Repairing it is moving it."

FEMA is expected to pay up to 75 percent of some infrastructure repairs. It is yet unclear, without a special legislative session, how much the state of Minnesota will chip in. With a budget of $182,000 for roads, the Village knows it resources are limited.

"If there are no funds, we may be forced to close some roads," Mayor Johnson said. "There are hard decisions to be made."

Graves encouraged the council to document all of their work during the emergency phase of the clean up, from debris removal to the number of hours worked.

"Documentation is one of the keys with FEMA in order to get funding," Graves said.

The council talked about water problems in south Rushford where the water table is high. There was seepage in 37 basements. Part of the problem was due to inflow infiltration into the sewer system.

The consensus of the council was to have WHKS assess the system and make recommendations on mitigation in the future.

Tri-County Electric

Schwanke briefed the council on recent talks with Tri-County Electric about the feasibility of the utility relocating to the industrial park along City Park Road.

Schwanke said it was a "what if" scenario: what if Tri-County wants to locate there; and what if they want to do it sooner rather than later.

"The big decisions will be about water and roads," Schwanke said. "Their timetable may have changed due to the flooding."

Council member Dennis Overland said that at this point all parties need to gather more information. Also involved in preliminary discussions were Ron Ziegler of Southeast Minnesota Development Corporation, Mike Bubany of Dave Drown Associates, Kevin Graves of WHKS, and Brian Krambeer of Tri-County Electric.

According to Schwanke, City Park Road will probably have to be concrete to handle the truck traffic. He was less sure about water, which would have to meet fire requirements.

Schwanke said the question before the council is, "Can we afford this and are we gong to support it to grow for our future?"

Other Notes

• Emergency Communication: Schwanke said that the village needs to take a good look at communication during emergencies, as phone service was out.

"When we needed someone, we had to go find them," Schwanke said.

A couple of solutions discussed included using the Civil Air Patrol and look into the use of radios.

• 2008 Budget: Mayor Johnson reminded the council that the village's budget for 2008 is due by September 15 and that there are a lot of unanswered questions at this time.

• Thank you: Mayor Johnson thanked the council for their hard work during the emergency.

"The destruction we have seen is hard to comprehend," Johnson said. "I want to thank all of you for what you've done."

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