Nobles County Commissioners declare State of Emergency; regional rail authority assesses $1.5M in damages

WORTHINGTON – During an emergency meeting Friday, the Nobles County Board of Commissioners declared the county in a state of emergency for conditions resulting from the persistent and continuing high precipitation severe summer storms beginning June 11, which caused a significant amount of public property damage.

According to County Administrator Tom Johnson, the damage to the county is estimated at approximately $600,000, but that number could change as things continue to be assessed.

A joint meeting took place via interactive television between the board and Rock County as members of the Buffalo Ridge Regional Rail Authority. Johnson said the estimated damage to the rail line is $1.5 million, most of which is located from the river in Luverne to what is referred to as Luverne Hill. In some spots, track and rail is hanging well above any supporting ground, which was washed away in the flood.

No immediate action was taken during the meeting, Johnson said, but he was contacted later by Rock County Administrator Kyle Oldre, who said the Rock County Board authorized a $750,000 loan to the authority so repairs can begin.

A special meeting has been scheduled for 4 p.m. Tuesday for the Nobles County Commissioners, who hope to have a better grasp of what FEMA’s intentions are by that time. FEMA is planning to meet with Rock County Tuesday morning and Nobles County Tuesday afternoon.

To meet FEMA requirements, or those of a presidential declaration of emergency, the state has to have sustained at least $7.3 million in damages during the flooding and storms. According to a conversation earlier this week with Sen. Al Franken, the damage in Rock County alone is alarmingly close to $4 million, and with 35 counties included in Gov. Mark Dayton’s declaration, reaching the $7.3 threshold should not be a problem.

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