Crow Wing County: Board requests state disaster assistance

See Gull, Cinosam, Legionville and Love Lake roads topped the list for the most severely affected areas in the aftermath of the July 12 supercell storm in Crow Wing County.

A worker cuts tall pines along a devastated stretch of Mission Road in the aftermath of the July 12 supercell storm. Renee Richardson/Brainerd Dispatch
A worker cuts tall pines along a devastated stretch of Mission Road in the aftermath of the July 12 supercell storm. Renee Richardson/Brainerd Dispatch

See Gull, Cinosam, Legionville and Love Lake roads topped the list for the most severely affected areas in the aftermath of the July 12 supercell storm in Crow Wing County.

Crow Wing County commissioners heard an updated report Tuesday, Aug. 11. Both Tim Bray, highway engineer, and John Bowen, emergency management director, provided updates on the storm recovery efforts. It's been just over one month since the storm struck the lakes area with hurricane force winds of at least 100 mph.

Bowen noted the disaster center set up at Timberwood Church in Nisswa in the immediate aftermath and said things went very smoothly. The initial focus was on clearing roads so emergency responders could get through the area. Two or three days after the storm, some roads were still impassable because trees were so entangled with downed power lines. Bowen said the highway department did a great job as did the power companies.

The American Red Cross surveyed 186 homes with preliminary damage assessments. One was destroyed. Six to seven others sustained major damage. Bowen said they are still working with insurance companies to get more precise details on how much damage is out there and how many claims filed.

What did stand out as well, Bowen said, was the support of volunteer agencies from the area and out of state who came to help, including Bridges of Hope, Salvation Army, American Red Cross and Nisswa Chamber of Commerce.


"If we needed something and couldn't find it we were able to call the chamber and they were able to find it for us," Bowen said. "The Salvation Army was serving 500 to 600 meals a day for quite a few days during that period. So there was a huge response effort from local volunteers."

A hotline gave the elderly, single parents, veterans, the disabled or those who just needed help with storm debris a place to call for assistance. Other organizations helping included Catholic Response, Team Home Depot with about 50 people and International Orthodox Christian Charities. Bowen said a Mennonite Disaster Response Team of young men from Minnesota and Iowa came here to work a 12-hour day and then went back to do their own chores.

"Just an amazing group," Bowen said.

Nechama Jewish Response to Disaster in St. Louis Park was in the area for a week and a half. Bowen said local volunteers who wanted to help were added to the disaster teams, which worked well. Having the Nisswa location as a hub proved to be a good option. Bowen said there are opportunities to learn from this event to improve responses for the future.

"There are a lot of good things that came out of that and working as a community, as a group, as a whole community to respond to this event was very nice," Bowen said.

Bray said about 60 percent of the debris removal is complete. The rest is expected to take three to four more weeks. Debris is being hauled primarily to two sites offered at no cost to the county; one is the former drive-in along Highway 371 and the other is off County State Aid Highway 29 in Nisswa, called pit 29.

Babe and Kris Winkelman allowed their property at drive-in as a staging area.

"That is a big deal to cut down costs for trucking," Bray said.


Contrary to some reports the county was either encouraging burning or was going to burn everything, Bray said that is not the case. The trees and storm debris being piled in those locations there will be chipped and repurposed at little or no cost to the county, Bray reported. A contractor has a chipping deadline to have the debris removed from the Winkelman property by Sept. 30 and the pit 29 location by May of next year.

Bray said there is still work left to do, including removing downed trees along the ditch next to Highways 3 and 4 north of Brainerd. Bray said the county has spent about $240,000 on labor and equipment and will have to pay for mutual assistance from the Minnesota Department of Transportation and contractors. Bray said the county learned a lot from the experience with the floods a few years ago in keeping records for reimbursement.

Bray asked residents not to place any more debris in the right-of-way. Bray said they've left areas thinking they were done only to go back and find new debris piles there. One of the county crews will continue to work on storm damage and the second crew is now going back to cover the other needs of the county, including mowing.

Commissioners approved a resolution requesting state disaster assistance. The state did not meet the threshold for federal disaster numbers. Bowen said another lesson learned from the floods of 2012 came in the establishment of a fund to help areas recover when they do not meet federal disaster thresholds. With this disaster declaration, Bowen said the state will pick up 75 percent and the local area will pick up 25 percent.

"Thank you so much for your work," said commissioner Rachel Reabe Nystrom.

By the numbers:

• In the immediate aftermath, the county's highway department worked on the night of July 12 and throughout the following day to open 54 individual roadways. The department noted some were completely blocked and others were down to a single lane or less.

• Since the storm, 59 roadways were worked on to remove debris.


• Between July 14 and Aug. 7, 1,511 tandem-axle dump truck loads hauled away more than 12,000 cubic yards of "vegetated debris" or trees and branches and bushes.

• To divide it by road, 343 loads were removed from County Road 115 with 311 loads from See Gull Road, 293 loads from the Cinosam area roads, 197 loads from Legionville Road, and 91 loads from Love Lake Road.

• Crow Wing County employees put in about 2,400 labor hours in storm response. Contractors put in another 500 hours in assistance.

• As of Aug. 7, the cost of storm cleanup considering both labor and equipment was $281,000.

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