Seeking disaster aid
A week after several tornadoes pounded portions of Faribault County on June 17, officials were busy assessing the aftermath and damage.
On Wednesday, county commissioners held an emergency meeting to unanimously approve a resolution seeking federal disaster declaration.
The resolution says the county sustained severe losses of major proportion caused by the tornadoes.
“Substantial damage has been sustained to public and private property … and the cost of recovery from the disaster is beyond the resources available within the county,” the resolution says.
County emergency management director Terry Campbell spent Tuesday and Wednesday with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Homeland Security representatives.
“We’re trying to put damage estimates together to see if we qualify for any federal and state disaster funding,” he says.
The final damage totals, says Campbell, should be tallied by the end of this week.
“We were pretty lucky. I’ve seen worse,” he adds.
No one was injured by the storms, but Campbell says three houses were destroyed.
He says another three homes suffered major damage, 14 had minor damage and 49 others were affected.
Commissioner Butch Erichsrud says the county escaped serious damage. He says the number of homes damaged is less than 1 percent in the county.
“Thank God for that,” responded Commissioner Tom Warmka.
Campbell assured commissioners’ the resolution covers the entire county.
“It is for everything on the farm site, city and residential buildings and buildings on your property,” says Campbell.
Warmka suggested that Campbell get ahold of Minnesota Valley Action Council so they could contact homeowners. “It is a great organization and we want to make sure we can keep them in the loop and people are aware of programs that could be available to them,” says Warmka.
Campbell says the resolution will be sent to Gov. Tim Pawlenty so it is combined with other counties when the state requests federal assistance.
Nicki Miranowski, executive director of the county’s Farm Service Agency Office in Blue Earth, also spent part of her week surveying damage in the Elmore, Kiester, Wells and Easton areas.
“There was some damage to ag buildings. From what we saw there was probably damage to only 1 percent of the crops. It was very limited and spotty,” Miranowski says.
Farmers are encouraged to contact the FSA Office to report acreage damages and whether they plan to replant the same crop or a new one so the proper crop credit history is recorded.
Carol Sands of Ag Star Financial Services says producers have called their office to report losses.
“The storm definitely impacted crops and fields in the Kiester area,” she says.
According to the National Weather Service in Chanhassen, two tornadoes touched down near Elmore within 10 minutes of each other.
The first tornado occurred around 5:10 p.m. about three miles northwest of Elmore, near the intersection of County Roads 2 and 9.
Winds reached speeds of 65 to 85 mph and the funnel cloud had a maximum width of 75 yards.
The tornado headed north of the city and was on the ground for nearly two miles.
Reports of damage included numerous trees being uprooted and a metal shed building blown in with debris found up to a quarter-mile away.
The second tornado registered winds of 80 mph and had a width of 20 yards.
The funnel surfaced about three miles northeast of Elmore, lasting five minutes and had a path of almost two miles.
Again, damage reported was mainly to trees.
The third tornado near Kiester proved to be the worst, being on the ground for four miles and lasting 15 minutes.
The funnel hit ground at 6:10 p.m. about two miles southwest of Kiester.
With a width of 50 yards and winds of 120 mph, two farmsteads, trees and several grain bins suffered damage.
Also, trees in a cemetery one mile north of the city were downed and gravestones overturned.