As you are likely aware, many of our neighbors in Wabasha and Goodhue Counties have been hard-hit by the flooding of the past two days. Today, I met with Governor Pawlenty in Pine Island as we surveyed the flood damage in the area, spoke with flood victims, and met with local emergency management leaders. It's estimated that over 150 families received varying degrees of damage to their homes and businesses from the flooding in Pine Island. The Zumbro has receded significantly in the City of Pine Island and the clean up by Pine Islanders is beginning.
I also met with emergency personnel, community leaders, and flood victims at the banks of the exploding Zumbro River at Zumbro Falls, Hammond, and Millville. The river crested in Zumbro Falls in mid-afternoon (about 3 p.m.) today at approximately 35 feet. I was told by the Zumbro Falls emergency management team that the gauge used to measure the flooding level at Zumbro Falls only goes as high as 31 feet and that they estimated the crest to have occurred another 4 feet above that mark. The city of Zumbro Falls has received (and is still receiving) extensive damage, with the entire business district completely consumed by rapidly-moving flood waters, and the majority of the buildings in the city appear to have received very extensive water damage.
In Hammond, I saw the same flood dynamics and damage that was present in Zumbro Falls. Only those structures furthest away and up hill from the raging Zumbro River excaped what appears to be massive destruction. Local leaders suggested that this flood is by far higher than the 1954 flood and that approximately 30 homes and businesses may have been destroyed. As of 5:00 p.m. today, the river had not yet crested, but was expected to reach its high point sometime soon.
Millville seems to have largely, due to its topographical advantage of being located on much higher ground, avoided very much flood damage. A few houses are reported to have received basement flooding, but more will be known soon.
As you may have heard, Governor Pawlenty has declared the 34-county flooded region of southern Minnesota to be a disaster and has applied for federal disaster aid. In the next few days federal flood evaluators will be visiting our communities to aid our friends and neighbors in determining the level of damage that they have received.
As flood waters continue to send area residents from their homes and businesses, many residents are wondering who they should be calling in order to receive assistance. I have listed some of the emergency management numbers below that you should contact if you are experiencing flooding problems.
Goodhue County: 651-267-2640
Wabasha County 651-565-3069
For additional information regarding flooding, visit:
Governor Pawlenty has already declared that we are in a disaster area, and it sounds like we may have a special session in the coming weeks so Minnesota can assist those who have been forced from their homes and places of employment. Please feel free to email me with any ideas or questions that you may have.
If you don't live in one of the flooded communities, please keep our hurting neighbors who are flood victims in your thoughts and prayers. I expect that a call for assistance in cleaning up homes and businesses in these communities will be coming out soon. I'll be sure to keep you up to date as more information becomes available.