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County to hold flood anniversary commemoration

Next week's anniversary of the flood of 2012 will not slip by unnoticed.

Drew Digby, long-term recovery manager for Carlton County, informed commissioners Tuesday that an open house is being planned to acknowledge the one-year milestone of the flood. Set for next Wednesday, June 19, it will take place from 4-7 p.m. at the County Transportation Building, 1630 County Road 61 in Carlton.

Digby said the purpose of the event is to provide the public with information about the status of the long-term recovery effort and outline steps that remain in the recovery process.

Representatives from Flood Homes With Hope, Carlton County Public Health, the Carlton County Assessor's Office, the Carlton County's Transportation Department, Emergency Preparedness and Zoning Department, and Environmental Services Department will all have information on the work that has been done as well as work that is yet to be done to recover from the flooding.

Digby said the county will also display maps of the widespread damage caused by the flood and provide information about assistance still available to individuals and families who were impacted by it.

The open house will also feature information on preparedness for future disasters, including a display of emergency preparedness kits. One kit will be awarded during a drawing at the open house.

Digby reported that as of June 5, the United Way of Carlton County had distributed $432,316.60 to 199 families through the Carlton County Long-Term Recovery Committee. The Committee also worked with the Moose Lake Area Fund and Volunteer Services of Carlton County, the Northeastern Minnesota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Duluth Catholic Diocese to coordinate assistance delivery.

Across the region, some $750,000 has been delivered to clients through the Regional Flood Fund administered by area United Way agencies, and approximately $2.4 million of private and foundation giving has been committed to the flood recovery for individuals and families by partners in the Flood Homes With Hope campaign.

"The campaign estimates that it needs to raise an additional $175,000 to meet the reconstruction needs of individuals and families who are trying to rebuild and repair their homes," said Digby. "In addition, state and federal officials estimated in April and May that they will approve a total of $16-$17 million in loans for homeowners in the region."

Within Carlton County, Digby said, the assessor's office estimate of flood damage included 54 destroyed homes, 124 homes with over 50 percent damage, 484 homes with 10-50 percent damage and 383 homes that were affected in more minor ways.

As part of the events marking the one-year anniversary of the floods, Digby told commissioners that Moose Lake is hosting a music festival on Saturday, June 22, from 2-10 p.m. with all of the proceeds going to the Flood Homes With Hope Regional Flood Fund. The Moose Lake Area Music Festival will be held on Elm Avenue in Moose Lake between Third and Fourth streets. The event will include music, vendors, games, a beer garden and raffles. Bands scheduled for the event include Chmielewski's Funtime Band, Uncle Lucky and The Jacks.

There is a $5 cover charge, with anyone under age 5 admitted free.

In other business at Tuesday's Carlton County Board meeting, commissioners:

- Approved a Wetland Conservation Plan for Esko Public Schools to replace 1.16 acres of wetland impact;

- Approved a 2.33 percent increase in gate fees at the Carlton County Transfer Station;

- Accepted a $25,000 Conservation Legacy Partnership grant to provide fencing for high value hemlock and Norway seedlings planted on the east side of Gillogly Road and a $32,000 grant (with the Fond du Lac Reservation and St. Louis County) for a cooperative brushing project on the Stoney Brook Brushland Complex;

- Tabled for further consideration a request to donate 700 yards of gravel toward the construction of a multi-use pavilion in Moose Lake -- supported through a three-way partnership among the city, the Farmer's Market and the Hockey Association -- because of concerns about setting a precedent, and

- Approved a request for a medical leave of absence for an attorney in the Carlton County Attorney's office and authorized refilling of the position through independent contractors on an interim basis.