Herald JournalHoward Lake-Waverly Herald, July 15, 2002

Damage estimates roll in as Waverly begins its recovery

By Lynda Jensen

The road to recovery from flooding will be a long one for Waverly, as discussed at the Waverly City Council meeting Tuesday.

Damage estimates from the storm June 25 are rolling in, reported Clerk Debbie Ryks.

So far, the city is anticipating about $100,000 in immediate expenses, related to cleanup efforts and sewer system damage, Ryks said.

This includes the purchase of sand and sand bags, tree removal, sewer system damage, and extra gravel for washed out areas, as well as staff overtime, Ryks said.

In addition, the city incurred costs from the mud slide at North Shore Drive, and paying for Mini Biff portable toilets around the lake, since portions of the sewer system at the north end.

The mud slide across Wright County Road 9 will be borne by the county, Ryks said.

However, this could be the tip of the financial iceberg, since many kinds of damage are yet to be calculated, Ryks said.

The city approved $300,000, which includes the immediate costs of $100,000, in low-interest funds during the meeting to cover flood damage expenses so far.

Damage to the main lift station at the sewer system alone is being estimated at $35,000, said Maintenance Supervisor John Rassat. Other kinds of damage to the city's infrastructure may not surface until the fall freeze, noted Mayor Charlie Bush.

Damage to the Waverly Waterfront Park is not determined yet, until the flood waters recede, said Parks Superintendent Jim Woitalla.

Woitalla mentioned that the Sentenced to Serve workers from Wright County were helpful.

In contrast, most of Howard Lake's damage stemmed from the sewer system, rather than cleanup, said engineer Barry Glienke of Bolton & Menk, which serves both cities.

Waiting for money

The process for applying for Federal Emergency Management Agency funds is a familiar one for Waverly, since the city had to apply for assistance in 1997 when straight line winds damaged the southern portion of the city, Ryks said.

FEMA does not have a quick track record and does not reimburse 100 percent of the costs, she said.

In fact, the City of St. Peter, which sustained damage during the tornado of 1997, is still awaiting final payments from FEMA, Ryks said.

This is why the city felt compelled to approve the $300,000 now, she said. The arrangement is at 3.5 percent interest during a three year period.

Aside from this, the mud slide around North Shore Drive prompted the engineer to suggest a retaining wall there, which would cost the city $900,000 if it decided to do this, she said.

Waverly's watershed

During his planning and zoning report, Adrian Duske indicated that the city should work with the county soil conservation for a study of the 12 Mile Creek watershed, which has Waverly at its foot.

In an unrelated matter, the city is re-surveying the first phase of Summerfields to determine how and why storm water problems occurred there, Glienke said.

The second phase of Summerfields and Arcon Development are both waiting for the ground to dry to resume their construction plans.

Disagreement over lakeshore elevation

Also during his report, Duske strongly recommended that the city should require new construction on lakeshore property to be elevated, to help avoid future flooding problems.

Duske alluded to a strong disagreement with Mayor Charlie Bush over the issue, and jokingly referred to Bush as "your honor," a number of times.

Bush indicated that he was not an advocate of government intervention on that issue.

"Neither one of us advocates big government," Duske said. However, as it stands now, the city's policy does not require what would save a lot of grief to homeowners decades down the road, he said.

Duske pointed out that the cost will be borne by the home owner.

Council Member Gary Olson agreed with Duske, along with Council Member Ken Hausladen. "I sat there high and dry," Olson said, referring to his home along Big Waverly Lake. Olson built his home elevated, although he was not required to do this.

Rassat pointed out that something like that should be consistent, since neighbors of elevated homes can become more easily flooded and cause conflict.

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