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FEMA provides estimate for Ottertail water damage

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local Perham, 56573
Perham Minnesota 222 2nd Avenue SE 56573

In a year where many parts of the Midwest are facing record flooding, the City of Ottertail is not immune to the high water dilemma. According to Lee Sherman, Ottertail's maintenance supervisor, water levels in the area haven't gone down much at all since the early spring flooding issues began.

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At the July 7 Ottertail City Council meeting, Sherman provided an update on the condition of Donald's Road. Water from the surrounding marsh area has been affecting the road since spring.

In order to figure out what the city's options are to repair the road, Sherman met with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) agent Paul White. According to FEMA's report, it will cost an estimated $4,100 to bring the road back to the level it was at prior to the flooding. This would not make the road better, but simply bring it up to the standard it was at before it was covered with standing water.

If the city accepts money for the repairs from FEMA, they are required to follow strict guidelines on how the repair is done. If these conditions are met, the city will receive 75 percent of the $4,100 estimate.

The city has already built up the shoulders of the road, but is considering doing it again if flooding persists. Unsure of the exact direction they'd like to take in repairing the road, the council members agreed to wait until the water levels go down in order to determine if the repair job outlined by FEMA will be best for the road. There is a possibility that the damage to the road will necessitate a more extensive repair plan.

Dog complaints

Another problem the council discussed is the numerous dog complaints the city has been receiving.

"We've been having a lot of dog issues...dogs running at large," said clerk-treasurer Elaine Hanson. "When somebody makes a complaint, we send the dog's owners a letter."

However, in some cases, these warning letters don't seem to be enough to bring an end to the ongoing troubles certain dogs are causing. Hanson questioned whether or not the council would consider imposing an administrative fine on dog owners who do not rectify the problems with their pets.

Hanson said the fine might help put some "teeth" in the dog ordinance the city currently has. After discussing the possibility of a fine, council members were in agreement that the city should continue to give owners a written notice of the problem before any fine is imposed.

The hope is that animal owners will take the necessary corrective actions. Hanson said she would look into what the penalties are that other cities are charging.

Weather radios

Hanson also updated the council on the information she gathered about weather radios. The radios are one option the city is considering to alert citizens of potential weather-related emergencies.

Hanson spoke with a representative from Perham Emergency Medical Services and learned that Perham purchases weather radios from the Minnesota Safety Counci l-- which Ottertail is not a member of.

Perham also has multiple outdoor sirens, which is another option Ottertail is still considering. Though they have many benefits, weather radios also have their downfalls. Even if the city purchases the radios and distributes one to each household, there's always the ongoing issue of people moving and new residents coming into town.

"Does it seem like there's a general trend away from sirens to the radios?" asked councilmember Don Patrick. Hanson said she wasn't sure. She said there are cities out there right now opting to put in sirens, to purchase weather radios or to utilize phone-based alert systems.

Councilmember Mike Windey asked if there's any possibility a siren could be installed at the Otter Tail County Sheriff's Operations Center in Ottertail. He suggested that the city could ask the sheriff's office to split the cost with the city.

Mayor Myron Lueders said the first step is to see if outdoor sirens are the route the city wants to take. Once the council has determined which type of warning system is best for Ottertail, they will further investigate that avenue.

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