Montevideo is seeking $3 million in state money to finish upgrading its levee system, including a leaky section that was built more than 40 years ago under emergency conditions.
About $7 million in federal dollars has already been spent to improve two-thirds of the system in the city, which is about 130 miles west of Minneapolis. But the remaining third is still vulnerable, as officials say it wouldn't be high enough or strong enough to hold back flood waters in a major catastrophe, the West Central Tribune reported.
"We still have a very weak link in the system and we could still lose everything," City Manager Steve Jones said.
If that portion of the levee were to fail, floodwaters could cover about one-third of the community in as little as 20 minutes and would likely remain for a month or longer.
The city has been trying for more than 15 years to get additional federal help, but the $7 million it received is the maximum allowed by federal law. The city hopes for extra funding through special congressional legislation, but Jones said the chances of that happening were slim.
In the meantime, Montevideo is asking the state to provide about $3 million in bond funds. The city already expects to invest up to $1.1 million of its own money _ the maximum allowed under state law _ toward the project.
The work could begin quickly as long as the necessary funds could be found, Jones said.
"We just need to get over that last hump," he said.