Gov. Dayton Tours Destruction in Duluth, Says Aid Will Come

By KBJR News 1

July 2, 2012 Updated Jul 2, 2012 at 1:53 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - With current damage estimates in the range of tens of millions of dollars in the public sector alone, Governor Dayton said he came to ensure Northlanders that he will fight for aid on the state, and federal level every step of the way.

Governor Dayton was greeted by a devastating scene early Thursday in East Duluth.

"It's just horrific—to see the wipe out of whole roads that I've been traveling on for years," said Dayton.

The devastation backed by a hefty price tag.

"In the city of Duluth, alone, we're looking at damage to the public infrastructure in the range of 50 to 80 million dollars. It has overwhelmed our storm water system, it has damaged our street system, our parks and trails have been decimated by this storm," said Duluth Mayor Don Ness, somberly.

With the city staring down such intimidating figures, the questions on many residents' minds are, 'how soon can these repairs be made,' 'which neighborhoods will see them first?'

"I want to see which side of Duluth is going to get more attention. Is it going to be the needy people? Or, is it going to be the East Side of Duluth, where everyone here, I'm sure, has proper insurance," said Lyndon Ramrattan, Duluth resident, and former host of the KUMD college radio program, "The Caribbean Roots Show."

...and how will this impact businesses during the upcoming holiday week?

"We want to make it clear that Duluth, and this region, is open for business. We welcome folks into our area. Duluth is safe, as long as folks use common sense in terms of where they go," said Mayor Ness.

Governor Dayton said the wheels of government often don't turn fast enough during times of catastrophe, and that much needed assessments from each impacted community are still being made.

"We're working with the Secretary of Transportation to see what funds are available on an emergency basis—federal or state—and how to access them, and we'll have to see what resources are already available that can be brought to bear on this, and then get it coming as quickly as possible," said Governor Dayton.

But, according to Mayor Ness, local, volunteer efforts will also be essential, and that people are already asking how they can help: "We want to thank them for their interest and enthusiasm to come roll up their sleeves, and pitch in."

In doing so, city, county and state officials all urge safety is the number one priority here.

City officials say they're working as quickly as possible to ensure people will be able to return to their homes, if they have been displaced, and that, as long as people obey the road closures, things will be safe.