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Scott Wente, Published March 25 2009

FLOOD UPDATE: Minnesota agencies step up contributions to Red River Valley flood fight

ST. PAUL – State agencies are stepping up their Red River Valley flood response today.

Officials from a host of agencies are part of a fully activated Emergency Operations Center in downtown St. Paul. The center is coordinating state assistance to flooded areas of northwestern Minnesota.

The National Guard, State Patrol and Health, Agriculture, Transportation and Natural Resources departments are among those taking part.

The operation center is coordinating state response to flooded communities’ requests for equipment, including sandbags, generators and helicopters.

“They continue to come in on an hourly basis,” Public Safety official Dennis Smith said of local requests. All requests had been met as of early Wednesday afternoon, he added.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty this afternoon is convening a meeting of top state elected officials to extend an emergency declaration in response to the flooding. The declaration triggers assistance to flood-affected counties.

Also today, a combination of flooding and blowing snow prompted the state Transportation Department to close portions of at least four northwestern Minnesota highways and post warning signs at seven highway points.

The agency warned drivers that fluctuating water levels make it difficult to predict whether water will flood a roadway.

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