Dayton mulls special storm aid session; flood worry sinks Taste of MN on Harriet Island

Gov. Mark Dayton
Gov. Mark Dayton talks to members of the news media on Friday in St. Paul about the government's response to recent flood damage in Minnesota. Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar look on.
Elizabeth Dunbar/MPR News

Updated 4:35 p.m.

As Minnesotans waded through the damage caused by waves of heavy rain, Gov. Mark Dayton on Friday opened the door to a special Legislative session to aid the state's flood torn regions.

The $3 million set aside by the Legislature this year to cover potential storm damage won't be enough to cover the destruction from this spring's storms and flooding, Dayton told reporters.

"I don't rule that out at this point if it's necessary," said Dayton, who on Thursday declared a state of emergency in 35 Minnesota counties because of the heavy rains and flooding. "We're going to get the help to people who need it as rapidly as possible."

Many river gauges around the state are already tipping over flood stage and more rain is expected in the coming week. In St. Paul, fears of Mississippi River flooding led Taste of Minnesota on Friday to cancel plans for the festival in early July on Harriet Island. Organizers said they're looking now for another site.

Dayton and Sens. Amy Klobuchar Al Franken traveled to southern Minnesota Friday to survey the storms' aftermath. They said they will be documenting the damage to farms and roads and begin applying for federal disaster relief funds.

• More: National Guard helps sandbag in International Falls
• Update: Hospital by mudslide safe, but more rain brings worry
• Road closures: MnDOT's updated list
• What's next? Check the forecast in your area
• Photos: Kayaker braves raging Minnehaha Falls

Lawmakers plan to request a preliminary damage assessment form the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Klobuchar said.

The impact on crop farmers is devastating, especially for those who do not have flood insurance, said Franken.

In southwest Minnesota, farmers in Rock County were hit especially hard. Officials say about 40 percent of cropland and pastures were seriously damaged or destroyed.

Civil engineers will also be out looking at damage to roads and bridges from flooding.

Last year Dayton called lawmakers back for a special session to deal with storm issues and said Friday he'd be open to it again.

Dayton said if he's noticed anything positive about the heavy rain and subsequent flooding, it's that efforts to prevent flooding have worked.

Owatonna is one example. The city saw flooding in 2010, and hundreds of homes were damaged. Afterward, city officials moved some homes away from the floodplain and constructed ponds to hold flood waters.

"We'll learn from this what more we can do, what more needs to be done," said Dayton. "We can't control what Mother Nature has in store for us but we can control how we can respond to it."

Overall, conditions were better Friday around Minnesota.

In the Twin Cities, the Metropolitan Council reported some sewage overflows into lakes and streams Thursday because of all the storm water rolling into the waste water treatment system.

Officials weren't aware of any similar overflows Friday.

Some rivers have already hit moderate flood stage and others are expected to reach flood stage this weekend.

That includes the Cottonwood River in New Ulm, the Minnesota River in Mankato, Henderson and Montevideo, the Mississippi River in St. Paul and Red Wing and a dozen or so other places, according to the National Weather Service.

With the water rising, St. Paul's already closed parts of several streets by the Mississippi and expects to close more this weekend.

Some of the rivers aren't expected to crest until next week, so there are flood-fighting efforts going on throughout the state to protect property from flood waters.

Some roads are closed, and a few homes in Henderson were completely flooded. National Guard troops were sent there today to help with the efforts, and that includes making sure the levees hold.

But it's going to be several days before the full impact of the storms and flooding is known.

The sunny reprieve on Friday may be short-lived. The Twin Cities National Weather Service is forecasting a chance of thunderstorms in the region each day through Tuesday.

The Minnesota State Patrol released this trooper dash cam footage of a mudslide nearly taking out a car near Belle Plaine.

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.