MINNESOTA - For the first time, U.S. Senator Al Franken (D) and Representative Keith Ellison (D) got a look at the damage left near the University of Minnesota Medical Center.
"I have never seen a massive mudslide like this in Minnesota," Sen. Franken said after looking at the devastation. "I have been in International Falls, I've been in Luverne. This is the first event like this I have seen in Hennepin County."
The hillside eroded after days of heavy rain. Quickly, a team of engineers and other workers moved massive oxygen tanks mounted at the top of the hill to a safe and secure area. Hospital staff temporarily evacuated patients. Mary Edwards, the VP of Public Policy for Fairview Health Services said the oxygen tanks are used to supply patients. No patients were injured. Edwards, who led Thursday's tour, said the tanks were moved the first day. The Friday after the storm, a crane was used to lift the tanks off their current location. She said that alone cost more than $200,000.
"We had to quickly move them and put them over on the other side. So, within a 24-hour period we were able to move them and put it over here and put down a new cement slab," Edwards said pointing to the new area.
As a result of the mudslide, which is being covered by a black tarp, hospital staff and patients have a new view.
"When this mudslide occurred all of a sudden this view opened up," Edwards said. "Imagine that you could have not seen any of this before. It was all trees and landscape. The Mississippi was blocked to us because of the wonderful tree landscape."
But now, the hospital has another hurdle to clear: securing funding to repair the estimate $4.2 million damage for the private institution. Franken and Representative Ellison said they will ask President Obama for federal funding to help rebuild that area.
"Once a disaster is declared by the president, normally the federal government pays 75-percent of public infrastructure damage," Franken said. "This is a private nonprofit. We will have to figure out what that means exactly."