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Lance Smith and son Landon depart Thursday evening in their boat from the nearly submerged dock at Lions Levee Park in St. Paul Park. The lower park area and boat launch had recently opened after the Mississippi River flooded the park. (Bulletin photo by Scott Wente)

Flood damage in Washington County nears $500,000

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News Cottage Grove,Minnesota 55016 http://www.swcbulletin.com/sites/default/files/styles/square_300/public/field/image/071614.N.SWC_.FloodDamage-1_0.jpg?itok=apquywTt
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Flood damage in Washington County nears $500,000
Cottage Grove Minnesota 7584 80th Street South 55016

The cost to public infrastructure in Washington County from recent flooding and storms has risen to nearly $500,000.

“It’s all over,” Washington County Emergency Management Director Doug Berglund said of damage incurred by 13 cities and townships as well as the county. It ranges from washed-out roads in the northern part of the county to flood-preparation costs in river cities and storm cleanup at St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park near Denmark Township.

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency and state officials are scheduled to visit Washington County on Thursday to review flood-related reimbursement requests from the county and numerous cities and townships. Officials also could tour some flood-affected areas.

The damage didn’t just affect cities along the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers, Berglund said.

Other areas also saw damage, such as when drainage culverts backed up because they could not handle the volume of water that flowed after June storms.

“It’s just the amount of rain,” he said. “The ground is saturated and the water has to go somewhere.”

The estimated costs include:

-- $22,000 in St. Paul Park, where debris removal was estimated at $12,000 and there was another $10,000 of flood-related parks and recreation damage.

-- $12,000 for emergency protective measures in Cottage Grove. The city had monitored river levels on Grey Cloud Island, and for a time closed one of two island bridges.

-- $15,000 for emergency protective measures in Newport.

-- $12,000 in Afton for similar flood preparation efforts.

Costs were higher elsewhere. Stillwater, along the St. Croix, estimated $53,000 in flood costs. And in Lake St. Croix Beach, north of Afton, road and bridge damage was pegged at $75,000, and there was another $35,000 in damage to water control, drainage and pumping facilities.

The costs could change. There were some areas still under water last week, so final damage estimates could not yet be tallied.

“I think it’ll go up a little bit,” Berglund said, cautioning that it’s possible FEMA will determine that not all of the requests qualify for reimbursement.

There is no similar tally available for flood-related costs to personal property.

The county’s threshold to obtain federal reimbursement is $833,476. While public damage costs may not reach that level, the estimates have already exceeded a lower threshold for state aid. If emergency officials confirm that the local estimates meet certain requirements, the county, cities and townships can seek reimbursement from the state.

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Scott Wente
Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.
(651) 459-7600
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