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Damage to county ditches at $600K

By Staff | Aug 5, 2018

County Ditch 21 (above) suffered extensive damage during the rain event of Sunday, June 24. A gas distribution line was left completely exposed due to high water in the area.

The Faribault County Board of Commissioners declared a county-wide state of emergency following the rain event of Sunday, June 24.

Since then, county drainage manager Merissa Lore says paperwork for seven of the county’s 114 ditches has been submitted to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, for disaster relief assistance. And there is still time remaining for more disaster relief requests to be submitted.

The last FEMA event in Faribault County occurred in 2014. Lore states the heavy rain and high winds throughout the county contributed to many downed trees falling into ditches four years ago. However, this year’s rain event in June created a much more concentrated area of damage.

“I’d say this event was more localized, but the systems that did get hit were torn up pretty bad,” Lore adds.

While damage estimates for the 2014 storm tallied roughly $70,000, this year’s figure currently stands at just under $600,000. Of the seven county ditches currently in the most need of repair, Lore says County Ditch 21 is in the worst shape by a large margin.

In fact, with over $300,000 in estimated damages on CD 21 alone, that figure makes up roughly half of the county’s total disaster relief request to this point. Lore paid a visit to CD 21 on the night of June 24 just to see the condition of the ditch with her own eyes. “The water got so high that it was above the ditch bank areas,” the drainage manager explains. “One of the landowners that lives there got seven inches of rain in only one hour’s time.”

Meanwhile, Joint County Ditch 414, which also drains into Martin County, sustained roughly $170,000 worth of damage. This figure represents the second highest damage estimate of the seven ditches which were most heavily affected by the summer storm.

Other ditches such as CD 5, CD 14, CD 17, CD 41 and CD 514 were also impacted by the June rain event. Lore says the ditches that feature curves or bends were most susceptible to storm damage.

“Those ditches saw a lot of sloughing from the sheer stress of all the water that came barrelling through,” Lore continues. “Other areas of concern are systems that had projects done last year. Those ditches got hammered during the storm, I think mainly due to the vegetation being disturbed.”

After going over preliminary damage assessments with federal and state disaster relief officials, Lore explains the next step is to see if the county can secure both federal and state funding to assist in damage repair efforts.

In the meantime, the county’s drainage manager for the past five years stresses the importance of patience as landowners look to pick up the pieces from the devastating force of Mother Nature.

“Contractors schedule things out very far in advance, so I’d say it’s going to take a whole year to get everything cleaned up,” Lore shares. “It’s just going to take some time, but I really feel for the landowners, it’s been such a rough year for them.”