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Twin Valley begins its recovery
By Bob Reha
Minnesota Public Radio
June 17, 2002

Elected officials have been touring flood stricken areas of northwestern Minnesota. 13 counties have been declared federal disaster areas. Torrential rains swept through the region last week. The water washed away crops and destroyed roads from the Canadian border. However people in Twin Valley, near Ada say they are going to need some help too.

Rising water punched a hole through the bank of the Wild Rice River (center). The river now takes a two mile detour through local farms. Water used to pour over the dam on the left. Now the river bed is dry below the dam.
(MPR Photo Bob Reha)

Twin Valley is a quiet little town in northwest Minnesota. The community was lucky. The town stayed dry during the recent rains and flooding. But the area surrounding Twin Valley took a major hit. Roads washed out. Bridges are damaged. The Wild Rice River blew a hole in a dam north of town, creating a new channel. Local crops may be wiped out for the season. Wade Montgomery works for a local farmer

"We got hail, you know," he says "What the hail didn't get, the rest is underwater. It drowned it out. It's just terrible."

Montgomery says the storm has left him with an uncertain future.

"It could mean my job could be lost over it," he says.

"It's hard to say: depends on how well things come back you know. Time can only tell what's going to happen to these crops. Some of them might come back, but then again there's going to be some that isn't, you know."

Roads into Twin Valley were washed out in the heavy rain
(MPR Photo Bob Reha)

Minnesota House speaker Steve Sviggum flew into Twin Valley by helicopter to witness the damage. Sviggum was greeted by local officials including city council man Don Buckle. Buckle told Sviggum because damage occurred mostly in rural areas, people are concerned they'll be forgotten.

"It's just a lot of isolated places too, that got more water than others" he said. He admits it doesn't look as bad as Roseau, but he says the situation is still serious.

Sviggum toured the Twin Valley area by car. Mayor Dennis Thorson gave him an inventory of the damage. Thorson says although the city stayed dry, there may be damage to the sewer system.

Sviggum says he's hopeful there will be state matching funds to help communities as problems arise. But he's not sure how much money will be available.

"I know we appropriated significant amounts last session in the bonding bill," he says. "It was actually in the capitol investment bill, but Governor Ventura saw fit to hold about half of that, about 15 million of that."

House Speaker Steve Sviggum meets with Twin Valley officials.
(MPR Photo Bob REha)

Sviggum says the most recent flood is reviving calls for flood mitigation projects. For years residents of northwest Minnesota have called for projects designed to hold back water from fields, to reduce overland flooding. The projects have support from locals and many elected officials. But some say the projects were blocked because of environmental concerns. Sviggum says efforts to find common ground to solve the issue should be renewed.

Sviggum is not the only elected official to tour the area. This weekend Senator Mark Dayton visited with local officials. Minnesota Senate Majority Leader and Gubernatorial candidate Roger Moe held a public meeting in Ada.

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