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Koochiching County added to federal disaster list

ST. PAUL — Koochiching County is among 24 Minnesota counties affected by summer flooding that were added to a federal disaster declaration on Friday.

The Red Lake Band of Chippewa and Prairie Island Indian Community also were declared federal disaster areas.

That’s in addition to the eight counties that were part of the original declaration last month.

Minnesota’s congressional delegation also announced Friday that the U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded Minnesota a $5 million statewide grant to repair roads damaged by flooding this summer.

Heavy rain caused flash flooding and long-term flooding across much of the state in June and July. In Koochiching County, Rainy Lake and the Rainy River reached historic levels.

Rainy Lake’s water level peaked at more than 1,111 feet above sea level earlier this summer, about 3½ feet above its target level for that time of year. On Friday, the water level on the dam-controlled lake east of International Falls stood at 1,109.4 feet above sea level, about 2 feet above its target level for Aug. 1.

State officials earlier this week had asked Washington to add 30 counties and the two tribes to the declaration.

The 24 counties added to the federal disaster list are Beltrami, Blue Earth, Brown, Carver, Dodge, Faribault, Koochiching, Lac qui Parle, Lake of the Woods, Le Sueur, Marshall, Martin, McLeod, Nicollet, Redwood, Rice, Roseau, Scott, Sibley, Steele, Todd, Wadena, Waseca and Yellow Medicine. The eight counties that originally were designated are Chippewa, Freeborn, Jackson, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone, Renville and Rock.

Still being considered for federal aid are Dakota, Hennepin, Lyon, Ramsey, Watonwan and Wright counties.

“I will continue advocating strongly for the inclusion of the six additional counties that sustained significant damage during this summer’s flooding,” Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said.

Friday’s announcement means 32 Minnesota counties now are included in the disaster declaration, even though state officials have said more than half of the state’s 87 counties sustained at least some damage.

Federal money will fund 75 percent of state and local government costs related to the flooding that began in June. The other 25 percent is to be paid by the state.

Federal money is available only to local and state governments, not individuals or businesses.