|For Immediate Release||For more information contact:|
|July 28, 2000||Stacy Jo Enge (651-296-2317)|
ST. PAUL -- Representative Marty Seifert (R-Marshall) said today that an emergency special session of the legislature may be needed to assist Yellow Medicine County and the City of Granite Falls with infrastructure needs due to massive damages from a July 25 tornado.
An estimated $8.1 million in damage to homes and other property in and around Granite Falls were reported, according to estimates released Thursday. Homeowners suffered $3 million in losses and $2.8 million in damage to vehicles and other items, said a spokesman for State Farm insurance company. The storm further inflicted $2.3 million in damage to public property, according to a preliminary damage assessment completed Thursday by the state Division of Emergency Management.
The Granite Falls tornado destroyed 40 homes and damaged 300 others, the state's assessment stated. Several businesses also were heavily damaged. The state estimated that 20 percent of residents who lost property had no insurance, while half didn't have enough coverage. About 25 percent of the victims are low-income and 15 percent are elderly. Repairs to public buildings and equipment will cost $1.5 million, while the bill for cleaning up debris will be close to $400,000, according to the state's survey. Public utilities need $300,000 in repairs.
As of Friday morning, the Federal Emergency Management Agency had turned down the state's request for federal emergency funding. Rep. Seifert said that is unacceptable. At $2.3 million in damage, the state's request would fall below the $4.7 million threshold -- based on a dollar of damage for each of the state's residents -- that FEMA typically sets for making aid available in Minnesota.
"The devastation is incredible," said Rep. Seifert, who assisted in clean-up activities in his district near Granite Falls. "If FEMA turns down our subsequent request, I will ask that Governor Ventura call the legislature in for an emergency session to provide some relief."
Granite Falls had already suffered immense damages from the floods of 1997.
It the residents in Yellow Medicine County have to pick up the cost alone, the $2.3 million in losses would amount to $201 in damage for each of Yellow Medicine County's 11,310 residents.
Rep. Seifert represents District 21A, which includes all of Yellow Medicine County except the city of Granite Falls. He has consulted with Representative Gary Kubly (DFL-Granite Falls), Senator Rod Grams, and the office of Governor Ventura in order to find out what the next step should be.
"I hope we can move forward and help these people get their lives put back together," said Rep. Seifert.