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Minnesota National Guard
Dayton declares flood emergency

Minnesota National Guard to send 200 Soldiers to join Moorhead flood fight today

By: Don Davis, INFORUM
Published April 07, 2011, 12:00 AM

ST PAUL – The Minnesota National Guard will send 200 soldiers to join the Moorhead-area flood fight today

Col Dirk Kloss of the Guard said the soldiers will help patrol dikes and provide “a quick reaction force” to conduct dike repairs

Activating the soldiers came shortly after Gov Mark Dayton signed an executive order Wednesday declaring flood emergencies in 46 counties and two American Indian communities Dayton’s action allows the state to provide local governments with a variety of help, including guardsmen

Areas around the Crow, Minnesota and Mississippi rivers face a second flood crest in coming days, and many places in northwestern Minnesota are bracing for initial crests of the Red River and other streams in the area this weekend or next week

The state Emergency Operations Center that coordinates state and local flood response is already open, but Dayton’s action allows the state to provide more help

Deputy Director Wade Setter of Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management said Dayton’s order also allows local, state and federal damage-assessment teams to begin working in southwestern Minnesota next week

The teams will work their way north as floodwaters recede

Kloss said the first troops to be deployed to help with flooding will be in Moorhead and nearby Oakport and Georgetown townships

John Margraf of National Weather Service said the Red River crest in Moorhead and elsewhere along the Red River will be near record levels for a couple of weeks

Along the Minnesota River, Margraf said, crests in coming days likely will be lower than last week’s first crests Mississippi and St Croix River waters will be slightly higher than last week, he added

The Stillwater Lift Bridge is expected to close Friday morning

“The weather is fairly quiet this week, fortunately,” Margraf said, and predicted weekend rains would need to be very heavy before they significantly increase flooding

“We are cautiously optimistic,” Setter said, adding that so far no significant flood damage has been reported

Despite relatively good news, Setter warned that “this is a very dangerous situation” That is true especially in places like Moorhead, he said, where “there is a lot of water moving through very fast”

With the Dayton executive order, Minnesota Adjutant General Richard Nash, head of the state National Guard, now has authority to activate personnel, with needed equipment, to fight floods or provide relief

Nash also may buy or lease goods needed to provide the aid

Also available are employees and equipment from many state agencies, including the Department of Transportation

On Friday, key legislators plan to visit the Moorhead area to see the flooding themselves

Sens Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, and David Senjem, R-Rochester, will lead a bipartisan delegation of Senate and House legislators Ingebrigtsen and Senjem lead key committees to provide flood funds

Lawmakers will tour the North Ottawa area and the Breckenridge flood-control project before hosting a Moorhead flood impact and update hearing with more than a dozen local officials

Davis works for Forum Communications Co He can be reached at (651) 290-0707 or ddavis@forumcommcom

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