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MN Counties To Receive Federal Aid

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The Sioux Empire wasn’t the only place hit hard by April’s ice storm. Parts of Minnesota were as well. And Sunday night county leaders were breathing a sigh of relief knowing they will be receiving federal aid after President Barack Obama declared the area a disaster.

The sound of a chainsaw has become the sound of spring in many parts of southwest Minnesota. After a spring ice storm destroyed trees, radio towers and miles of power lines, the cost to fix it all is not cheap.

"The last figures that I saw were just over $16 million for just Nobles County,” said Nobles County Administrator Tom Johnson.

Nobles County is just one of five counties Obama has declared an area of disaster in Minnesota. And as strange as it might sound, being declared a disaster area, is a good thing.

"There's not a lot of money sitting anywhere in any governmental entity just sitting around just for disaster like this. To maintain a fair tax level, you just can’t put money away and have a big bank account,” said Johnson.

Nobles County will be reimbursed up to 75 percent of what the cleanup costs. Johnson said if Obama didn’t make the deceleration that money could have come out of residents’ pockets.
"The only way to recoup that money would have been to raise rates presumably,” Johnson said.

And it’s something Johnson said county leaders didn’t want to have to do.

And with many places around Nobles County, like this park in Worthington, still practically untouched three weeks after the storm, Johnson said knowing the county will receive some federal assistance will hopefully make the cleanup go faster.

That includes some power lines that need some final touches.

"I would assume that the co-op will be able to bring in the some more people and be a little more rapid on how they fix the electrical lines completely,” said Johnson.

Knowing financial help is on its way, county leaders and residents can also now focus on getting rid of all of this.
County leaders said the next step is for them to ask the state for assistance as well. They said the money they receive will help a little, but rural towns may need a little more to cover some costs.
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