Storm damage reports coming in for Lyon County

MARSHALL – Cleanup efforts after heavy June rains are still going on around Lyon County, and county commissioners got reports on some of the damage during their regular meeting Tuesday. Lyon County Emergency Manager Tammy VanOverbeke asked the board to take the first steps toward having the county declared a major disaster area.

VanOverbeke said some of the heaviest storm damage was to the city of Cottonwood, which experienced flooding and sewer backups after getting 10 inches of rain the night of June 18. Cottonwood hadn’t experienced anything like it in the past, she said. The flooding was caused by a combination of heavy rainfall, saturated soil and overwhelmed storm sewers.

“It was kind of an eye-opening experience for them,” VanOverbeke said. However, she said Cottonwood residents did an excellent job of reaching out to fellow citizens and mobilizing disaster-response efforts.

“I worked with some very community-minded people. They truly care about their neighbors,” VanOverbeke said.

Heavy rains and high water also took a toll on some Lyon County roads and bridges this month. County Engineer Aaron VanMoer said a large culvert was washed out on Lyon County Road 11, south of Minnesota Highway 19. The culvert washout took the road bed and some of the highway pavement with it.

“Currently the road is fenced off” around the culvert, VanMoer said. The closure will likely be in place for a couple of months, he said.

VanMoer said the county is seeking federal emergency relief to help cover the cost of repairing the washout with a reinforced concrete box culvert. He estimated the culvert replacement would cost about $150,000.

VanMoer said flooding caused about $13,000 worth of other road and bridge damage around the county between June 11 and June 22. Although the grand total could still rise, he said, “We’ve been pretty fortunate.”

VanOverbeke said he has been collecting damage reports and preparing to file for disaster relief funding. However, because of changes in the qualification process, she said she wasn’t yet able to give an exact loss figure for Lyon County. On Tuesday, she said a “ballpark estimate” might be around $120,000.

VanOverbeke asked the board to approve a resolution requesting the governor to petition to have Lyon County declared a major disaster area. Doing so would be one of the first steps in qualifying for federal assistance funding. Commissioners passed the resolution.

In other business at Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners had some further discussion on the preliminary sketches made for a possible building addition at the Lyon County Government Center. The county is considering a building addition and major remodel to make more room for the Lyon County District Court. No matter what option the county chooses, commissioners said, some of the major concerns would be a loss of public parking spaces and possible zoning problems caused by building the government center further out toward Main Street or 7th Street.

Commissioners also said they wanted to hold one or more public hearings on the possible building options. However, board consensus was to wait to schedule a hearing until after County Administrator Loren Stomberg could work with the city of Marshall to address zoning or city ordinance conflicts.