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Flooding causes $70K of damage in Beltrami County: Total not enough to receive federal aid money

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BEMIDJI -- Recent flooding caused as much as $70,000 in estimated public property damages in Beltrami County, officials said Thursday.

The damage costs fall below the $155,000 threshold for the county to qualify for federal emergency aid funding, said Chris Muller, Beltrami County emergency director.

According to state officials, flood damages continue to add up across Minnesota, with 24 counties reporting $48 million in public infrastructure damage as of Wednesday. Carver County alone reported $9.2 million in damage to public infrastructure. Areas of the state hit the hardest included the Twin Cities metro area, and directly to the east of Beltrami County in neighboring Koochiching County.

Locally, the worst flooding occurred near the community of Waskish on Upper Red Lake, and the Tamarac River. Damage to public property was mainly caused by floodwaters impacting roads and culverts, Muller said.

Muller said he could not provide total damage estimates for private property, but his office had not received reports of significant damage to private land other than some flooding of outbuildings near Waskish.    

“Most of it was basically water on top of the road that receded and...either was absorbed or moved on to a bigger body of water,” he said. “The persistent precipitation in June resulted in widespread overland flooding.”

Muller said the county has completed almost all road repair work and the main concern now is boat wakes causing property damage and erosion on area lakeshores, Muller said.

“Right now, the main thing that we’re worried about is the waterfront properties,” he said. “If we get a significantly windy day… this could be a huge concern for them with erosions of their beaches and anything they have built or improved next to the water.”

Although waters have receded somewhat since the peak flooding in June, they will likely remain an issue for the rest of summer unless the area gets a sustained dry period, he said.

Also likely to stay throughout most of the summer: a voluntary no-wash, no-wake zone advisory the county instituted June 19. Muller cautioned the mandatory no-wake zones that were already in effect through county ordinance will be “strictly enforced.”    

Muller said there’s not much lakeshore property owners can do to to protect their property from boat wakes besides sandbagging, but concerned citizens can call the Law Enforcement Center at 333-9111 to report boaters who violate no-wake ordinances.

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