Two days after a fire ripped through businesses on the town's Main Street, Gov. Mark Dayton visited the southern Minnesota community of Madelia and pledged to help.
"Madelia will come back stronger than before," Dayton told reporters Friday morning. "And the way the people have rallied together, reaching out, helping one another, the offer of space and financial support, is really a tribute to the city and the people and the spirit of Madelia."
At least eight businesses suffered damage in the Wednesday morning blaze, which started at a business around 2:30 a.m. The Madelia Fire Department called it a "huge loss" to the local community. Madelia is a city of roughly 2,300 people located about 25 miles south of Mankato.
People have been reflecting on the city’s loss and started a GoFundMe page to help the affected businesses. It's raised more than $11,000 as of Friday morning.
Exactly what type of help the state might be able to offer is still being determined.
Dayton said most of the businesses seem to have had insurance, which could cover a lot of the rebuilding and repair costs. There's also been talk of pausing property tax for those affected, which is technically a local government issue but Dayton said he'll see if the state's Management & Budget commissioner can do anything to help.
"Today is really sort of a needs assessment, and of course everybody wants it all back tomorrow, and the reality is it's going to take some time," Dayton said.
The Mankato Free Press reports Mayo Clinic is donating $10,000 to recovery efforts.
The Greater Mankato Growth Foundation is also helping collect donations.
On Thursday, the State Fire Marshal said its investigators is helping determine the cause of the fire, though also warned it could be months before a conclusion is reached.
"The concern people have that we're going to disappear is not warranted," Dayton said. "We'll be here."
Locals reaching out to Ellen
Meanwhile a Facebook campaign reaching out to Ellen DeGeneres for help has been shared more than 900 times.
A post from Janna Raisanen to the talk show host's timeline, writing in part:
"The damage is in the millions. People are without jobs and have watched their dreams crumble to ashes. Please help us restore our faith and grow stronger as a community. I have lived in Madelia my entire childhood and would be so saddened to see them unable to rebuild."
It's got 5,097 likes and 949 shares as of noon Friday. There are a few tweets mentioning "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" as well.