It's a great county we live in
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
It’s been three weeks since many northern Minnesota home and business owners woke up to find water filling the basement or surrounding the building.
Carlton County responded to that flood with remarkable speed. Volunteers were dispatched in the wee hours of June 20 to make shelters, evacuate residents in danger, make sandbags and otherwise help those who needed it. In roughly 24 hours, people filled and placed 80,000 sandbags in Moose Lake. Volunteer firefighters and law enforcement officials evacuated two-thirds of Carlton that first day. In Esko, residents successfully defended the pump station by surrounding it with sandbags, keeping their sewer and water safe in a remarkable community effort.
People did what had to be done.
By June 22, efforts were under way to create a one-stop-shop for both volunteers and the many residents who needed their help. By June 23, a call center was operating upstairs in the Cloquet Armory, while more volunteers busied themselves downstairs, helping flood victims, organizing donated clothing and other items. By June 25, the Carlton County Assessor’s office was out assessing private property damages, going door-to-door with the help of assessors from 20 other Minnesota counties.
It wasn’t a perfect process, but Carlton County officials and Jill Hatfield, executive director of Carlton County Volunteer Services, had a volunteer center up and running a full two weeks before Duluth did. Our assessor’s office was mostly done with its job before St. Louis County even started.
It’s not that they did a bad job north of here, it’s more that Carlton County – its residents, employees and leadership – did an exceptional job. That becomes more evident every day.
Carlton County Commissioner Ted Pihlman, who represents Moose Lake, hit the nail on the head in his response to news that President Obama had signed the major federal disaster declaration for Minnesota’s flooding last Friday.
“This is great,” Pihlman said. “It’s not surprising that action was taken, because we had so many excellent people getting all the information together to forward to the President. It shows how hard the people of Carlton County worked to get this together.”
We’re not the only ones who noticed.
Commissioner Tom Proulx met with the FEMA officials who evaluated Carlton County in a visit June 28. He said the emergency management personnel said Carlton County should be their new “poster child.”
Keep up the good work Carlton County officials and residents, because – as the stories in this week’s Pine Journal show – there is much left to do.
Anyone who would like to help is invited to call Volunteer Services at 218-879-9238.