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Gov Ventura Flies Over BWCA

July 14 1999 at 12:35 AM
Roger  (no login)

Response to Repair Eagle Mountain Trail Around Missouri Convention Sept. 7-11

Governor Ventura flew over BWCA. His handling of matters is somewhat of a controversy in Minnesota as he spent part of his press conference time talking about going back in the wrestling ring!

Below is the story:
HIBBING, Minn. (AP) -- Despite the severe damage in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area caused by a July 4 storm, Gov. Jesse Ventura is encouraging people to continue visiting the popular wilderness area.

After viewing the area from a plane Monday, Ventura said he wanted to " remind everyone that there are still thousands upon thousands of beautiful trees up here ... don' t let it curtail your summer fun because northern Minnesota is still there."

The storm that toppled an estimated 17 million to 25 million trees in the 1.1 million-acre wilderness and injured 20 people caused the basement walls of Sherry and Dale Anderson' s $100, 000 house in Iron to collapse. Anderson showed Ventura a picture of the damage to her home.

Ventura said whenever one part of the state is in trouble, the rest of the state helps out.

" That' s why I' ve declared a state of emergency for this particular area, " Ventura said. " I wanted to signal that the state is paying attention to the unusual needs in this particular disaster, and I' ve directed the state agencies to help in all appropriate ways available."

Ventura on Friday declared a state of emergency for the area. He has not taken a ground tour of damaged homes.

" From above it naturally doesn' t give you the same perspective I' m sure that it does down at ground level, but still from above you can see quite a large damaged area, " Ventura said.

Anderson said she had hoped to hear Gov. Jesse Ventura explain how the state and federal government plan to help homeowners, not tourism, recover from a July 4 storm.

" I think they should be thinking more about the people, " said Anderson, who broke down crying in the midst of Ventura' s news conference at the Chisholm-Hibbing Airport. " I feel sorry for the people who were stuck out there (in the BWCA), but we lost our lives."

After the news conference, Anderson said, " The reason I came here was to hear about the houses, not about the woods."

The storm caused an estimated $19 million in uninsured losses to public property in northeastern Minnesota, according to Kevin Leuer, director of emergency management for the state Department of Public Safety. That includes damage to roads, bridges, sewer systems and other infrastructure.

Damage estimates to private homes may be available late this week.

Nine Federal Emergency Management Agency teams are arriving in Grand Rapids for a briefing and then to begin assessing damage to private residences. Two of those teams will estimate damage to private homes.

A reception center will be established where storm victims can contact FEMA and FEMA officials will meet with residents in the field.

" This is a long-term process, " said Leuer. " We' ve learned in the floods of ' 97, the Comfrey and St. Peter tornadoes of last spring that recovery is a long-term process. There are some bumps in the road."

Federal assistance to homeowners could become available a short time after the assessment is complete, Leuer said.

The Red Cross and Salvation Army are still serving as the stop-gap relief agencies until additional levels of assistance are determined, Leuer said.

Anderson and other residents say they' ve received generous help from those agencies, but say they' re still unsure what type of state or federal assistance they' ll get.

Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., on Monday urged FEMA to provide immediate disaster funding to the BWCA. Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., asked homeowners, businesses and government officials to make accurate assessments of emergency needs and damage.

" You cannot imagine the destructive force until you' ve seen it in person, " said Oberstar, who flew over the area Sunday. He said part of the area looks like " Paul Bunyan went on a rampage with his ax."

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