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Flood recovery: Federal aid expected, more Nat'l Guard mobilized

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For the first time in days, skies across Minnesota remained free of rain clouds, giving state officials a chance to assess the damage and plan for a recovery.

Twenty Minnesota National Guard members are being sent to the town of Henderson, the state announced Friday morning, to provide levee and lift station support. The town, which has an estimated population about 900, sits right along the Minnesota River about 30 miles north of Mankato.

According to the DNR's river level map, the river's water level was "very high" up north near Jordan, and "high" down by Mankato.

That's in addition to the 100 National Guard soldiers sent to Koochiching County Thursday to help with cleanup.

A host of state officials toured some of the areas in southern Minnesota hit hardest by rain and flooding over the past week.

Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, Gov. Mark Dayton, U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, State Emergency Director Kris Eide and Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson all toured the area, including stops in Edgerton and Luverne.

Dayton yesterday declared a state of emergency for 35 of Minnesota's counties, including Rock and Pipestone where he and the other officials are touring Friday.

Looking forward, KSTP reports the state is expected to ask for federal disaster aid. In addition, the state has about $3 million in a newly created disaster recovery fund, created by the 2014 state Legislature.

WCCO reports damage estimates in Rock County alone are at $3.5 million, as the county finds itself 40 percent underwater. The station says the state must reach $7.4 million in damages to qualify for federal disaster relief, which Dayton says will be surpassed.

In the metro, officials tell KSTP Fairview Riverside hospital is structurally sound, despite a mudslide behind the complex that dropped muck and debris into the Mississippi River.

And the Taste of Minnesota – back after a three-year hiatus – has to be moved from Harriet Island due to significant flooding, the festival announced on its website. Staff are currently assessing other potential venues for the July 3-6 event.

The Pioneer Press reports 450,000 gallons of sewage was pumped into Kohlman Creek Thursday night after an overflow, possibly caused by residents pumping floodwater into their drains rather than onto lawns. Lake Gervais was closed Friday because of it, the paper says, and officials warn the waste water could flow into Kohlman Lake, Keller Lake and Lake Phalen.

In St. Paul, the Metropolitan Airports Commission began deploying temporary floodwall around the St. Paul Downtown Airport in preparation for potential flooding along the Mississippi River. The Mississippi River in St. Paul is expected to hit major flood stage of 17 feet this weekend, and then continue to rise, possibly cresting at 20 feet later next week, the Pioneer Press reports. It's only the fifth time the floodwall has been deployed, but all have come in the last five years, the sate says.

Roads remain closed throughout the state, especially in the south. You can find a full list of road closures and other flooding issues here.

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