Six weeks after a devastating wind storm knocked down trees and left thousands without electricity in St. Louis County, the County Board recognized the coordinated response involving multiple departments and staff in responding to what some have called “the perfect storm” — widespread power outages in the midst of dangerously high temperatures.
Among those honored:
. The Public Works Department, which worked alongside Minnesota Power to clear trees from roadways as the utility company cleared downed power lines. Public Works also worked with the County Land and Minerals Department to open gravel pits to serve as storm debris drop off sites.
. The Sheriff’s Office – 911 Emergency Communications division, which handled more than 700 calls in a four hour period; and the Volunteer Rescue Squad, whose services ranged from searching by air for potentially injured campers in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, to assisting with traffic control in the Duluth area at the many intersections where stoplights were not working. Additionally, Emergency Management Coordinator Duane Johnson was recognized for his work activating and managing the Emergency Operations Center, ensuring a coordinated response involving the County, Minnesota Power, City of Duluth, City of Rice Lake, and other agencies.
. A team of Public Health nurses who responded to a request from the Duluth Fire Department to go door to door in multiple senior citizen apartments, checking on the well being of elderly residents who were without power.
. A triage team in Public Health and Human Services who assisted approximately 200 households, most involving children, to receive emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to replace food that had spoiled and had to be thrown out.
. Noah Mittlefehldt and the Assessor’s Office for its work visiting storm damaged properties following both the July 5 and 21 storms. Mittlefehldt coordinated teams of appraisers to inspect hard hit properties to determine if they may be eligible for property tax credits or abatements.
Many county employees suffered storm damage to their own homes and properties, and yet reported to work as scheduled to assist the citizens of St. Louis County.
In praising the staff, County Board Chair Steve Raukar said, “Your work personifies what public service is all about. A lot of people complain about government, but when need arises, it sure is nice to have all of you here.”