Senators seek disaster aid for tornado-hit countiesIn the aftermath of last week’s series of tornadoes across Minnesota, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar visited Freeborn and Faribault counties in southern Minnesota to meet with local residents and survey the storm damage. Last Saturday, Klobuchar visited tornado-devastated Wadena.
By: Staff Report, Alexandria Echo Press
In the aftermath of last week’s series of tornadoes across Minnesota, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar visited Freeborn and Faribault counties in southern Minnesota to meet with local residents and survey the storm damage. Last Saturday, Klobuchar visited tornado-devastated Wadena.
“In a matter of just a few seconds, people’s lives were twisted and turned upside down,” said Klobuchar. “Minnesotans expect there will be some tornadoes every year, but the number and ferocity of the storms on June 17 went way beyond a normal summer. The widespread damage certainly qualifies as a true disaster.”
Klobuchar – along with Senator Al Franken and Representatives Jim Oberstar, Collin Peterson and Tim Walz – sent a letter today to President Obama urging him to issue a disaster declaration for Faribault, Freeborn, Olmsted, Otter Tail, Polk, Steele and Wadena counties.
A Presidential Disaster Declaration would provide financial assistance to individual residents, businesses and local governments.
Klobuchar also noted that the 2008 Farm Bill contains improved disaster assistance to farmers, including low-interest emergency disaster loans
Klobuchar went to the community of Kiester in Faribault County. Mayor Roger Oldfather and local officials took her on a tour of storm damage in the community. The National Weather Service reports that an EF-2 tornado, with winds up to 120 miles per hour, struck the Kiester area. The tornado touched down 2 miles south southwest of Kiester and tracked for about four miles through the west and north part of the town.
Near Alden, in Freeborn County about 13 miles west of Albert Lea, Klobuchar visited the farm of David Ausen, whose house was severely damaged by a tornado. In addition, his barn and old machine shed were destroyed, and a new machine shed collapsed with much of the equipment wrecked. A number of grain bins were also destroyed.
The National Weather Service reports that six separate tornadoes, including one with EF-4 strength, hit portions of Freeborn County.
Also at the Ausen farm were Deb Steinfeldt from AgStar Financial Services and Tim Penny from the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation. AgStar is committing $25,000 in relief funds for victims of the storms. The Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation will manage the relief funds and seek partners to add to AgStar’s initial investment.
According to the National Weather Service, at least 20 separate tornadoes hit areas across Minnesota on the afternoon and evening of June 17. The storms caused three deaths, dozens of injuries and extensive damage to public and private property.