Governor declares state of emergency in 36 Minnesota counties after flooding

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency in 36 counties and one tribal nation impacted by torrential rains, flash flooding, damaging and tornadoes this summer. Of those 36 counties, 23 have declared states of emergency. 

A state of emergency declaration directs all state agencies to assist local and county authorities with their severe weather response and allows the state to work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to conduct a preliminary damage assessment. If the damages exceeds $7.7 million, Minnesota would be eligible for a federal disaster declaration.

A flood warning remained in effect Thursday for three rivers in southwestern Minnesota. The Cottonwood River crested at 32.69 feet Wednesday morning near Springfield in Brown County. Parts of the city were flooded along the river and an apartment building had to be evacuated. In New Ulm, the river is expected to be five feet over the flood stage, according to police. 

A report completed by the National Weather Service confirms an EF-1 tornado hit Bemidji, Minn. early in the morning on the Fourth of July. No one was injured.

According to the NWS Damage Survey, the tornado touched down just west of Bemidji State University around 6:18 a.m. Wednesday morning. It stayed on the ground for only a minute, traveling about 0.7 miles from near 15th Street NW and Norton Ave NW to about 19th Street NE and Bemidji Avenue. Measuring about 200 yards wide, the tornado reached speeds up to 100 miles per hour.

The tornado lifted a garage off its foundation, uprooted multiple trees and damaged roofs. Surveyors also noted straight line wind damage surrounding the path of the tornado.

Prior to the Fourth of July holiday, major flooding hit Lyon, Murray and Redwood counties in southwestern Minnesota, causing many road closures in the area. The Lyon County Sheriff's Office told Fox 9 they had to rescue some people from their cars Tuesday morning. The Renville County Sheriff's Office also had to assist a 16-year-old driver who crashed into a deep hole after the township road washed out around the culvert beneath it.

Minnesota’s severe summer storms, which began on June 9, have caused significant flooding and damage to in the following counties: Aitkin, Becker, Beltrami, Blue Earth, Brown, Carlton, Cass, Clearwater, Cottonwood, Faribault, Fillmore, Freeborn, Jackson, Kittson, Lake, Lyon, Mahnomen, Martin, Mille Lacs, Mower, Murray, Nicollet, Nobles, Pine, Pipestone, Polk, Red Lake, Redwood, Renville, Rock, Sibley, Stearns, Stevens, St. Louis, Waseca, and Watonwan counties, and the Red Lake Nation.