City of Benson estimates June 21 storms will cost it at least $381,000

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by Reed Anfinson, Editor

It is estimated that cleaning up from the 85-mph winds that ripped through Benson early in the morning June 21 will cost the city $381,000 or more.
At Monday night’s Benson City Council meeting, City Manager Rob Wolfington reported that he had submitted that estimate to Swift County’s Office of Emergency Management. The estimate is forwarded to the State of Minnesota.
While there is not a guarantee of a disaster declaration for Swift County that could help pay back some of the expenses related to the clean up, filing the report is the first step.
A substantial amount of that cost will be related to chipping the massive amount of tree debris piling up at the old Benson city dumpsite. The pile is roughly 100 yards long by 450 yards wide, Wolfington said. Using FEMA formulas, there could be 50,000 cubic yards of debris at the site – and it grows every day.
The city is talking with Fibrominn about taking the wood chips.
There is additional city cost in collecting all the debris from city boulevards as well as cleaning up the uprooted and damaged trees on city property. The city also had to bring in outside electric crews to help its own crews restore power.
The majority of the damage done to city was the result of a storm that struck around 1:30 a.m. June 21. Benson’s airport recorded a wind gust of 85 mph, but winds were sustained at 50 to 85 for as long as half an hour.
A second storm with winds of 50 mph struck the city late that same afternoon causing additional damage and knocked power out to more homes – in some cases the same homes that had just had their power restored.
It’s hard not to notice the bright fluorescent orange Xs on the trees through the community; there are nearly 200 of those Xs.

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