Commissioners declare Le Sueur County in a state of emergency following storms

Jake Keohen, Montgomery Messenger

The Le Sueur County Board of Commissioners held an emergency meeting Tuesday, Aug. 29, and approved a resolution declaring a state of emergency in the county because of the tornado event last Thursday, August 24.

The board also dealt with septic system and zoning issues at Tuesday's meeting, and earlier had held an emergency meeting Friday, August 25, the day after the storms, to approve resolutions relating to the destruction in the southwest corner of the county.

The commissioners declared a state of emergency to be proactive in dealing with the storm damage, with such a declaration starting the process of receiving federal and/or state aid if it becomes available.

County Coordinator Roxy Traxler said figures are constantly changing, but preliminary estimates of residential damage are expected to exceed $5 million. Agriculture officials are also estimating damages in excess of $5 million for ag-related losses such as crops, livestock and equipment.

Tuesday's meeting also included discussion with Zoning Administrator Kathy Brockway concerning septic fees and zoning issues related to rebuilding when non-conforming setback and feedlot issues are present.

The county board was unanimous in supporting the waiver of all septic, zoning and licensing permit fees on properties affected by the tornado. More than once a board member commented that they want people to recover from storm-related losses, and were taking administrative action on variances to aid in that recovery as soon as possible.

The emergency meeting held Friday, August 25 had three resolutions on the agenda - Emergency Debris Removal, Structural Inspection and Fees Waived.

The debris removal resolution authorized the county engineer to solicit quotes from local contractors for removal of debris piles in the county, township and state highway road right-of-ways due to tornado damages. Individual property owners are responsible for their own debris removal, which should be covered by insurance.

The resolution on structural inspection requested the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry Building Codes and Standards Unit send structural engineers to assess damage caused by the tornado. Personnel Coordinator Peg Donovan said inspectors have already visited the affected areas with County Assessor Dave Armstrong to make an assessment of damages and offer advice to property owners.

The resolution on fees waived all building permit fees, duplicate title fees and duplicate license fees for those persons applying who have been affected by the tornado.

Disaster relief office

A disaster relief hotline office has been opened in the courthouse and can be reached by calling 507-357-2251. The Le Sueur County website also has information concerning volunteers and may be accessed at www.co.le-sueur.mn.us.

County Coordinator Roxy Traxler said hundreds of volunteers are currently helping out in the disaster area and upwards of 2,000 are expected this weekend.


Hotline set up to register volunteers for tornado cleanup

The Le Sueur County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) has set up a volunteer hotline at 507-357-8211 to register volunteers and for county citizens in need of volunteer assistance. People can call the hotline Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

At this time, according to the EOC, immediate clean-up needs are being met by local friends and neighbors, county crews, and volunteer agencies such as the Red Cross and Salvation Army.

Volunteers will be needed to assist with clean-up starting this weekend. This clean-up effort could last up to six weeks.

In order to have a coordinated process, volunteers must register through the volunteer coordinator, who will send them to a specific location. Please do not go to the local fire halls because they are not equipped to handle volunteers.

Offers to assist have come from Minnesota and Iowa. Local citizens have expressed appreciation of this outpouring of concern.

For more information, including storm victim and clean-up information, log on to the Le Sueur County website at www.co.le-sueur.mn.us.

Relief fund established

A relief fund has been set up for monetary donations to help tornado victims in Le Sueur County.

Donations may be sent to: Community Bank, P.O. Box 249, Cleveland, MN 56017. Checks should be made out to Le Sueur County Disaster Relief. The funds will be turned over to the county for distribution.

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