Officials: County is a disaster

BLUE EARTH – Faribault County commissioners declared a state of emergency Tuesday and requested a Presidential Declaration of a major disaster for the county.

Sheriff Mike Gormley and Chief Deputy Scott Adams sought the measures as the first step to getting federal assistance to help clean up after a heavy rain and wind storm June 16. The duo said the storm cut a swath from Elmore, north to Blue Earth, then northeast to Easton, with rain totals from 3 to 7 inches.

The resolution passed by commissioners said, in part, “The Faribault County Department of Emergency Management requests the Faribault County Board of Commissioners to declare Faribault County in a state of emergency for the wind and rain storm event of June 11, 2014, through June 23, 2014.”

Adams said Homeland Security Emergency Management suggested setting the dates from June 11-23 because of the rain that saturated the soil before the storm, allowing many trees to topple, pulling their roots out of the ground.

“Devastation of buildings, windbreaks, crops,” said Commissioner Tom Warmka. “The economic impact of this has not been known yet.”

He said the deadline to plant corn is past and the soybean deadline is looming, but the soil is so saturated, farmers might not get in the fields in time.

“The economic impact will be huge, I’m telling you,” Warmka predicted.

That is why the board passed the second resolution, requesting the major disaster designation.

Now the county will work with regional Homeland Security Emergency Management, and the county’s representative will work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to get assistance.

Warmka praised local first responders for all their work.

“When you look down your lane and see the fire department cleaning your lane off [to have emergency access], that’s good stuff,” he said.

The wind was clocked at 84 mph at the Law Enforcement Center in Blue Earth, Gormley said.

There was a report that one of the wind towers west of town clocked a 120 mph gust, with 89 mph winds for 10 minutes, said Clara Vereide, senior technical clerk. The Sentinel obtained confirmation of the report from a Big Blue Wind Farm employee.

The city of Blue Earth has collected 214 dump truck loads, said Jamie Holland, Public Works director. He said 21 trees were lost or damaged at the Faribault County Fairgrounds.

Gormley and Adams said there was a long list of damage from around the county: trees and sheds taken down, grain bins damaged, flooding in basements and croplands.

“The river came out of the banks, just about everywhere across the county,” Gormley said. “Rivers and creeks, just about everything is overflowing.”

Gormley advised homeowners to take photographs and keep records of all the storm damage and save documents pertaining to any repair work they have done or will do.