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Obama pledges help in Minnesota flood recovery


President Obama in his two-day stop in the Twin Cities has been focused on an economic message, but state officials bent his ear about another topic: flood recovery.

Minnesota leaders say they plan to seek federal aid when damage estimate tallies are completed. Estimates are already in the millions of dollars, and the federal money could be used to help restore public assets, such as roads, water treatment plants and government buildings, as well as some emergency response costs, the Star Tribune reported.

Obama vowed to be a strong partner in the cleanup.

"I told the governor that we will be there as we get some clarity about the damage and what needs to be done," Obama said, the Associated Press reported.

Relentless rain last week caused swollen creeks and rivers to spill their banks all over the state, swamping roads and other city infrastructure, hurting businesses, flooding home basements and draining small-town coffers.

Among the casualties: planned wedding ceremonies, several rides and much of the parking lot at Valley Fair, and an 1840s historic marker in Cottage Grove.

In St. Paul, where the Mississippi River crested late Thursday about 3 feet above major flood stage, the city is spending $1.7 million in flood planning and response.

Obama's national security team has briefed him about Minnesota flooding, and he learned more about it Thursday during his visit, a KSTP/Associated Press report noted.

Minnesota as well as FEMA officials are conducting damage assessments in flood-ravaged counties in advance of Dayton making a request for a presidential declaration of disaster.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said, "The president is going to want to hear that Gov. Dayton is getting the kind of support he needs."

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Gov. Mark Dayton has floated a proposal to spend a lot more state money than Republican lawmakers were expecting on recovery and rebuilding after devastating June flooding. A special legislative session to deal with flood relief issues is tentatively set for Aug. 24.

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