Flooding in southwestern Minnesota has attracted a flotilla of officials to the area.
Gov. Mark Dayton got a firsthand look Friday at communities hit by flooding after relentless rain.
The governor’s first stop was Slayton, where he met with local officials and community members to discuss how to get state and federal help to them. Slayton is the seat of Murray County, where 8 to 10 inches of rain fell July 3, or double what the area typically gets for all of July.
Flying in, Dayton said he saw a lot of standing water on fields that were partially or even completely underwater.
“It’s a catastrophe,” Dayton told reporters.
Dayton was joined by U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, Sen. Tina Smith, state Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson and state Emergency Management Director Joe Kelly. Their itinerary included trips to Walnut Grove and Balaton. Sen. Amy Klobuchar made her way through the area Sunday.
A persistent pattern of severe weather since June 9 brought waves of heavy rain, flash flooding, high winds and tornadoes to much of Minnesota. The storms and resulting flooding have damaged crops, roads, homes and other buildings.
Dayton declared a state of emergency in these areas: Aitkin, Becker, Beltrami, Blue Earth, Brown, Carlton, Cass, Clearwater, Cottonwood, Faribault, Fillmore, Freeborn, Jackson, Kittson, Lake, Lyon, Mahnomen, Martin, Mille Lacs, Mower, Murray, Nicollet, Nobles, Pine, Pipestone, Polk, Red Lake, Redwood, Renville, Rock, Sibley, Stearns, Stevens, St. Louis, Waseca and Watonwan counties, as well as the Red Lake Nation.
The governor said he will seek federal disaster assistance for the affected communities, but cautioned that the process for obtaining relief is slow. Smith said she’ll be working from Washington to get the aid approved as soon as possible.
“It’s a hard time,” Dayton said. “There’s no way around it.”
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture said farmers in areas covered by the state of emergency can apply through their existing lenders for zero-interest loans from the Minnesota Rural Finance Authority for help in covering cleanup, repair and replacement costs not covered by insurance.