On Wednesday I joined Dept. Ag. Commissioner Dave Fredrickson on a tour of Far Gaze Farm recently hit by a tornado. Damage was devastating as you can see in the before and after shots.
Commissioner Fredrickson observed, “the power of nature is overwhelming how quickly it can destroy so much hard work.” We met with the Petersons and a small group of public officials, legislators, local media, and farm group representatives to assess damage and begin the process of sorting out how the State might be of help.
Jennifer Hauer-Schmitz, Emergency Management Dir. of Rice County Sheriff’s Dept. reported that at least seven tornadoes touched down in Rice County and damage was extensive although mostly to trees. Clean up is on going and her office is looking to announce more volunteer opportunities to help. She described what data she has been able to gather about the damage to farms, homes, businesses and public land and structures. She indicated the data is incomplete and more information is needed to determine what programs might be able to help. “I need to hear from people who have damage especially damage to uninsured property. Though it is unlikely we will reach the threshold for Federal Damage assistance she encouraged us to get the word out to people so she can complete her report. So if you have damage or know someone who does do what you can to contact Jennifer at email@example.com or 507-332-6119. She also reported that few injuries and no loss of life have been reported, “the weather service saved lives by getting warnings out to people.”
This tour was organized by Joshua Solano, staff at MN House. If you have pressing needs that you think my office might be able to help with please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-0171.
The storm got some immediate attention from local media:
Storm story Sept. 21: Northfield News
After the meeting Commissioner Fredrickson did send out the following information from his Department:
Disaster Information Center
The Minnesota Department of Commerce helps consumers in the event of a natural disaster.
Government Assistance for Farmers
MN Dept. Ag. Disaster Recovery Loan Program
Free financial farm counseling available
Soon after the storm Northfield City Council member Suzie Nakasian sent out the following information for city residents:
I am writing to share a recap of the storm, an update on the citywide clean-up that’s now underway, and some information to assist your Storm clean-up efforts.
As always, please feel free to contact me with questions or additional information about this and other events and issues in our community. I am easily reached via email or phone 507-301-6756.
Suzie Nakasian, Ward 1 Representative, Northfield City Council
I. Storm Recap:
• The attached Storm Damage Map shows areas of the City that were hit the hardest – most of those in Ward 1 especially the southeast region near Sibley School and further out east to Prairie, Mayflower, Heywood and Parmeadow
• City Staff have been working 24/7 – starting in the hardest hit areas
• Thankfully, there were no human casualties of this storm: with a shift of wind just a few blocks to the west, it could easily have been otherwise! Thank you for heeding the City’s Storm sirens!
• Carleton College reports significant tree loss but no serious structural damage to buildings
• The most significant structural damage was to properties on the edge of or immediately outside the city limits to the east and south
• Within the City Limits, significant damage was done to the City’s Urban Forest: by the end of the day on Sunday, 2700 truckloads (!) of felled trees had been added to the City Compost site – find more information below.
II. Update on the CityWide CleanUp
1. The City’s citywide clean-up efforts will continue into late October:
• Crews are currently working to remove boulevard trees and limbs that require heavy equipment
• Next step is to commence a citywide “sweep” of smaller tree limbs and branches . . .this is where you come in – read on- –
2. Starting Monday, October 1, City Crews will begin the work of removing all smaller downed tree limbs and branches that are piled on the boulevard.
• When crews come through, they will grab any tree limbs and branches that are piled on the boulevard – regardless of whether those are from felled boulevard trees or trees that are (or were ?) located on private property.
• Please note this one-time policy change which comes at the direction of the City Council: If you have downed tree limbs on your property, it is okay to pile those limbs and branches on the boulevard for removal by the City.
• City crews will make one pass through each city street over several weeks starting on Monday, October 1.
• A schedule of pick-up dates is in the works – I will forward it when it becomes available on the City website.
In the meantime. . .
III. Here are some tips to assist the City Crews with your storm clean-up efforts:
• when possible, cut branches that are on the boulevard to lengths of approximately 4′ or less (not an exact science)
• stack branches so that stems are perpendicular to the curb, with the stems a few inches away from the street (makes ‘e, easy to grab)
• keep the street and gutter clear of leaves, branches and other debris
• (while you are at it, check to make sure that nearby storm-sewer drains are clear of leaves and debris (this helps our water treatment plant)
• boulevard piles should include only trees and branches! piles that include weeds, grass clippings or other debris will not be picked up by City crews
• leaves, weeds and grass clippings may be bagged in compostable paper leaf bags (available at Econo/Family Fair) and brought to the curb for or pick up by DSI Dick’s sanitation on your trash pick up day (purchase curbside tickets at Econo/Family Fair). Residents may also bring bagged leaves to the Rice County LandFill or the City Rodeo Grounds (see below)
• If possible, please hold off on putting leaf bags at the curb until after the larger limbs are carted away- – let’s get the big stuff off the boulevard first.
Compost Site UPDATE:-
• Northfield’s Rodeo Grounds is new Compost Site: starting at 8am TODAY, Tuesday, Sept 25, Northfield and Dundas residents who are able/willing to haul their trees and branches may bring them to Northfield’s Rodeo Grounds (enter at Woodley and Highway 3) instead of the City Compost Site on Armstrong Road [Note: The City Compost Site on Armstrong Road is completely full and is now CLOSED until further notice.]
• The Rodeo Grounds is now open as a Compost Site, with extended hours: 7am – 8pm, 7days a week for the receipt of trees limbs, branches and leaves in compostable bags. There will also be a container at the Rodeo Grounds for the collection of household organic waste.
• The Rice County Landfill (located 3 miles south of Northfield on Highway 3) is open for extended hours M-F 7:30am-4:30pm M-F and Saturday, Sept 29, from 7:30am-1pm. Northfield and Dundas residents may bring to the Rice County Landfill yard waste including leaves, brush, grass clippings, branches, and other garden residue; No non-composable leaf bags, lumber, rocks, or stumps.
• The Rice County Landfill also accepts construction and building related debris and household hazardous waste and unused paint and chemical products. For more information contact: RCSolidWaste@co.rice.mn.us or call 507-333-3877
• Rice County residents who have questions and concerns related to this storm event may call the Rice County Non-Emergency Storm Line: Monda-Friday from 8am – 4:30pm 507-333-3877 or toll free 833-643-7423.
• Northfield area residents who need volunteer help to assist with the removal of trees and branches are encouraged to call Northfield Shares at 507-403-9755 or email email@example.com 8am-7pm 7 days a week. Many helping hands are available! Northfield at its best!
• Many Northfield-area churches also have volunteer crews working to assist neighbors – check your local church listings.
• If you can volunteer time or equipment to help area residents cut down trees and clear trees/branches, or if you are in the position to offer meals to families without power, please call Northfield Shares at 507-403-9755 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The day after the storm I did a tour of Northfield, Dundas, and surrounding townships between Faribault and Northfield and took a few photos. I heard about damage to Northfield Township but did not get a chance to see it up close until yesterday.