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Minnesota Flooding Leads to Calls for Special Session

August 23, 2007

St. Paul, MN - Some state lawmakers are asking Governor Pawlenty to call a special legislative session to provide flood relief to Southeastern Minnesota. In addition to causing at least six deaths, Senator Ann Lynch of Rochester says the floodwaters have washed out roads, destroyed bridges and swept houses away, and state government needs to respond promptly.

"The state can provide assistance for those communities, businesses and individual homeowners that have been affected. We need to do something for the families that are suffering, and we can do that, right away."

Lynch has toured Winona, Wabasha, Fillmore, Houston, Steele and Olmsted counties. She reports extensive damage and predicts residents will need both immediate and long-term assistance.

"In the town of Rushford, there are 44 businesses in the downtown business district. All of them are closed, and suffered significant damage. In some instances, if the mayor had not told me that a house was once located on that lot, I would not have known there was a house there."

Minnesota Farmers Union President Doug Peterson says farmers have similar stories, and lawmakers must also address the impact of the floods on agriculture.

"The function of the government is not to produce paper to give you a headache. The function of government is to cut through that red tape and make sure that you get help. Emergency dollars can come from the federal government immediately, but they have to be cleared. That's what has to be taken care of."

Lynch and fellow Senator Sharon Erickson Ropes of Winona sent a letter to the Governor requesting a special session to address the flooding. He says such a session is likely, possibly before Labor Day.

Jim Wishner/John Robinson, Public News Service - MN