Rapidan Dam latest: Gov. Walz tours damage, assures MN communities ‘we will rebuild’

Following the Rapidan Dam in south central Minnesota suffering a partial failure – resulting in a house along the Blue Earth River near the dam falling into the river, and the dam store nearby being demolished – Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz toured the site on Tuesday, offering reassurance that both state and federal governments will stand behind Minnesota communities affected by flooding.

"First and foremost, in an emergency like this, it's protecting the life of people around ... And then the system kicks in, and you're gonna hear from the emergency managers, you're gonna hear from the engineers," Walz said on Tuesday.

Last week, the governor’s office announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved a federal disaster declaration for 22 counties in Minnesota impacted by flooding. State funding provided by the Minnesota Legislature will also be provided to help communities.

"We have a disaster assistance contingency account. It's got about $26.4 million in it now because of the last legislative session," Walz said. "It will replenish in August [with] $50 million more, and that fund can be used without a federal declaration, and it can be used if a county or if a community didn't reach the threshold to warrant that reimbursed. We will rebuild, the cost will be shared by all of us."

Walz also noted that Minnesota leaders will look at additional ways to support local businesses and potentially include more communities to be eligible for flooding assistance during recovery efforts.

"The counties that have not yet been included in the disaster declaration does not mean they're not going to be. It means that the damage assessments are still coming in and being resubmitted," Walz said. "We don’t want to sugar coat things. It will take a while, but there will be resources available to help."

Engineers are still working to evaluate the structural stability of the Glacier Road Bridge in Blue Earth County.

County officials, with the help of state and federal partners, are continuing to monitor the condition of the bridge.

"As the river level continues to decrease and cut the riverbed elevation down, we're very concerned about the potential for partial or full failure of the bridge," said Blue Earth County Public Works Director Ryan Thilges on Tuesday.