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With rivers rising, emergency declarations expanded, extended

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Elected officials are expanding and extending emergency conditions around Minnesota as flooded rivers continue rising in the wake of last week's record rainfall.

As KSTP reports, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman declared a state of emergency in the capital city where the Mississippi River is projected to keep rising for another couple of days.

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A river level of 17 feet constitutes major flood stage at St. Paul. Monday evening the river was over 18 feet with forecasters expecting a crest around 20 feet on Wednesday or Thursday.

MPR News reports St. Paul has already spent $1.7 million on flood preparations. The emergency declaration will allow the city to seek reimbursement from the federal government for flood-related expenses.

The Star Tribune says Coleman called the flood a manageable weather event but noted costs to taxpayers are rising along with the river.

Separately, the Star Tribune reports on the decision by Gov. Mark Dayton and other top state officials to extend a state of emergency in 35 flood-stricken counties. The move by the Executive Council adds another 30 days to the emergency.

Last week Dayton visited flood damage in far northern and southern Minnesota and called the scale of the floods overwhelming. With some of the highest water now in the Twin Cities area, the Star Tribune says Dayton plans to tour metro area damage Tuesday and will discuss it with President Barack Obama during his Minneapolis visit on Thursday.

Federal disaster assistance to compensate Minnesota for washed out roads and flooded homes and farm fields may not come until after the water recedes. But on Monday the U.S. Department of Transportation authorized $750,000 to help repair damaged roads. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx called it a downpayment to help Minnesotans begin repairs. "One of the first steps in getting repairs underway is to make funds available and we are working to ensure the state can get the necessary work started quickly."

The Minnesota Department of Transportation's latest report on flood-related closings shows some roads have reopened in western counties. But Mankato, St. Peter, Le Sueur, Albert Lea, and Henderson are among the communities where highways are still under water.

In the Twin Cities area some of the most disruptive closings include Highway 41 in Chaska, Highway 101 in Shakopee, and the Stillwater Lift Bridge over the St. Croix River.

In Wright County the Crow River at Delano is at its highest level since 1965. The Associated Press reports city crews have built a levee but some businesses have turned off their gas and electricity as they brace for floodwaters. The water level may wash out one of Minnesota's oldest and largest Fourth of July clelbrations, the AP says.

Minnesota's Emergency Operations Center is issuing regular situation reports that pull together the latest dispatches from a host of state agencies keeping tabs on various aspects of the floods.

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