Devastating Storms Cause Second Declaration of Emergency at Crow Wing – Brainerd Dispatch

BRAINERD – Severe thunderstorms that left damage in their wake during the week of June 20 led Crow Wing County to declare a local emergency.

To make such a claim, the county must demonstrate that it suffered at least $135,552.15 in damage to public infrastructure, making the county and local jurisdictions eligible for 75% reimbursement from the state of Minnesota. for eligible expenses. This is the second time this year the county has made the decision to declare an emergency due to the effects of inclement weather.

“We have reached our threshold. We currently know this through our (electric) co-ops and our highway department,” said Crow Wing County Emergency Management Director John Bowen. “But there’s still a lot of cleanup going on across the county.”

At the county board meeting on Tuesday, June 28, Bowen cited examples of areas particularly affected during the June 20 storm, when high winds toppled trees in the towns of Brainerd and Baxter as well as other pockets of destruction. He said Greer Lake Campground — a primitive campground in Crow Wing State Forest — is closed due to downed trees, and places like Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area have also been damaged by the storm.

“It’s a little different from the storms of 2015 and 2016 because it’s spread across the county, it’s not in one geographic location,” Bowen said, referring to two dramatic storms in 2015 and 2016. with hurricane force winds affecting the Gull Lake area. “So it’s taking a lot longer for the highway department, public works and our contractors to clean up, because they’re driving everywhere.”

It’s been a stormy start to the summer season in north-central Minnesota, with the National Weather Service issuing a slew of severe thunderstorm watches and warnings. Heavy rains, high winds, hail all caused damage not only to public property, but also to homes, businesses, vehicles and landscapes.

“We’ve just been battered lately, storm after storm, and I know we’ve had a hell of a hit area,” Sheriff Scott Goddard said at the meeting.

Bowen noted that damage estimates in the state from the Memorial Day inclement weather appear to have reached the threshold required for federal assistance through a presidential disaster declaration. Once this level is reached, combined federal and state aid reimburses 100% of response costs.

“It helps us a lot, especially our small towns and townships, because there’s no correspondence anymore,” Bowen said.

A 2014 state law amendment created the Disaster Assistance Contingency Account to assist local communities after a natural disaster, even when federal assistance is not available. This has led to more local emergency declarations than before the law was passed, county administrator Tim Houle noted.

“We do this more frequently due to storm events that did not meet the federal threshold, but now meet this new state threshold to be eligible for reimbursement – ​​at least a partial reimbursement,” Houle said.

Although state and federal reimbursement programs only apply to costs incurred by public entities, Bowen said other avenues could be made available to those who have suffered damage to their private property, including: especially for those who are uninsured. The United States Small Business Administration sometimes offers low-interest disaster loans to residents and businesses, depending on the extent of the disaster in an area. A county-coordinated investigation is seeking to determine if the area may be ripe for loan assistance.

“We’re seeing more and more homes that (have) major damage, with trees on top of them or trees going through the roofs,” Bowen said.

The state of Minnesota has asked Crow Wing County to survey residential and commercial owners to see if they suffered significant damage to their homes, businesses or structures.

The dates to be included in the survey are the storms of May 29-30 and June 20-24. To complete the online survey, go to

before July 31.

For those with more than 40% structural damage, complete the survey and someone will contact you. For more information, call 218-824-1044.

CHELSEY PERKINS, Community Editor, can be reached at 218-855-5874 or

[email protected]

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