State opens emergency flood center
ST. PAUL -- The state Emergency Operations Center opened today as flooding begins in southern Minnesota, with problems expected to move north in coming weeks.
Up to 150 people from state, federal and private agencies will man the St. Paul center until floodwaters recede.
While spring EOC operations have become common as floods now are an annual occurrence, this year is different in magnitude.
Forty to 50 counties are expected to be affected by flooding this year, said Deputy Director Wade Setter of Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management. A year ago, about 20 were affected; nine, mostly near the Red River, were affected two years ago.
The EOC, a room crammed with tables and computers, houses representatives of all state agencies involved with flood issues, ranging from the State Patrol to the Board of Animal Health, from the Commerce Department to the National Guard. Also in the room are people from federal agencies such as the Coast Guard, as well as private relief organizations like the Red Cross.
Setter said the center is important because it allows quick and easy communication among agencies, and gives local authorities a single state government contact.
The center will work normal business hours through Sunday, then 12 hours a day unless 24-hour coverage is needed. A skeleton crew will work each night.