NU, county flood damage nears $1 million

NEW ULM-State and federal emergency management officials talked to City of New Ulm and Brown County officials Friday before touring Brown County flash flood damage sites.

Preliminary infrastructure damage was estimated at $205,740 in the City of New Ulm, according to New Ulm Emergency Management Director Dave Borchert. That figure includes $179,000 in storm sewer damage including a sink hole caused by a 64-inch storm sewer blow out on CR 13, just south of New Ulm, estimated to cost $75,000 to repair. A sinkhole just north of Milford Street broke a 24-inch storm sewer pipe. Estimated cost to repair the damage was $120,000.

“Things are going well,” Borchert said. “It’s early in the process, but we’re getting our affairs together.”

Preliminary Brown County infrastructure damage was estimated at $772,705, according to Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) Disaster Recovery Coordinator Angela Brown. “This is only a preliminary figure,” Brown said after looking at photos in the Brown County Law Enforcement Center Training Room.

The Cities of New Ulm and Hanska both had to bypass their sanitary sewer systems due to the dramatic increase in flow rates from the eight inches of rain that fell on Tuesday and Wednesday, June 17-18.

New Ulm experienced a peak flow of 11,000 gallons a minute, still had an average flow of 3,500 gallons/minute on June 24, compared to a 2,000 gal/min average daily flow. Hanska experienced a 200,000 gal/day peak flow. Average daily flow is 50,000 gal/day.

During the flood, the New Ulm Fire Department got a call from Brown County Dispatch requesting the rescue of three young males who tried to swim across the fast-moving Cottonwood River in Flandrau State Park.

A number of city, county, township and state roads had water flowing over them and had to be closed. Many county and city homeowners had basements with water up to four feet deep, according to a Countywide Impact Statement compiled for the HSEM. All Brown County Roads are now open.

“We’re looking at (flood) mitigation repair and prevention on County Road 10 and the K.C. Road due to the number of mudslides. I’ve never seen so many big rocks moved by water. Erosion cut a 1,400-foot long, 12-foot wide and three-foot deep gouge out of the hill. We need to replace lots of rip rap, seed and mulch on Steffl Hill. That’ll cost about $200,000 alone,” said Brown County Highway Engineer Wayne Stevens. “But, we’re fortunate to have three gravel pits nearby, enabling us to buy rock at $40 a ton. We’ll need about 5,200 tons of it.

Stevens estimated the cost of cleaning ditches and culverts at $50,000 besides cleaning debris including trees away from bridges. He added that some ditch repairs won’t begin until this fall when crops are out of the field.

Depending on the type of disaster damage, the President may issue a major disaster declaration for Public Assistance (aid to public and certain non-profit entities for emergency services and repair/replacement of infrastructure and public facilities). Individual Assistance (aid to individuals, households and businesses), and/or Hazard Mitigation Assistance (funding for measures to reduce future losses to public and private property).

Eligible applicants include state and local governments and any other political subdivision of the state. Certain private, non-profit organizations may also receive assistance. For fiscal year 2014, the small project threshold is $68,500. The federal share of assistance is not less than 75 percent of the eligible cost for emergency measures and permanent restoration. The grantee determines how the no-federal share (up to 25 percent) is split with sub-grantees (eligible applicants).

Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at

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