Franken, others tour SW Minn. storm damage, estimated at $10M

Listening session
U.S. Sen. Al Franken (center), Gov. Mark Dayton (second from right) and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (right) hear about the ice storm in Worthington, Minn., on Saturday, April 13, 2013, as photos of the damage appear on the screen behind them. They pledged to help get state and federal assistance for the storm area. U.S. Rep. Tim Walz was also along as the group made several stops in southwest Minnesota.
MPR Photo/Mark Steil

State and federal officials toured ice storm damage on Saturday in southwestern Minnesota, where government and business representatives estimate it will cost more than $10 million to clean up tree limbs and restore power.

Thousands of homes were still without electricity.

U.S. Sen. Al Franken, who was part of the tour, said that the damage was widespread and that he will try to get federal assistance for the cleanup effort.

"It was a freak storm," Franken said. "I mean, you have this ice ... then the snow comes down and crack. So you lost some really beautiful trees, and we're going to do everything we can to help people clean up."

Storm damage
Damage from an ice storm in southwest Minnesota, pictured on Saturday, April 13, 2013, is expected to exceed $10 million. In Worthington, Minn., officials estimate that a thousand trees on city boulevards will have to be replaced.
MPR Photo/Mark Steil

Gov. Mark Dayton, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and U.S. Rep. Tim Walz were also on the tour, along with several state legislators.

The damage estimate included $1 million in Worthington to remove tree limbs and another $1 million in lost business productivity in the city.

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But the worst damage appeared to be in rural areas. At least 1,500 transmission poles were damaged in Nobles County, said Rick Burud, manager of Nobles Cooperative Electric and Federated Rural Electric.

Burud estimated total damage to the two power companies at $8 million to $12 million.

"We still have in the area of 3,000 farms that have no power," Burud said, referring to Nobles and Murray counties.

Another 1,000 residents in Jackson County are without electricity, he said, adding that it could be another week before power is fully restored.