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Neighborhood youths help taxi driver Todd Walter back his cab out of the flooded intersection Friday at 10th Street and Kandiyohi Avenue Southwest. For the second time this year, heavy rain caused street and neighborhood flooding at the Willmar intersection. Tribune photo by Kelly Boldan

Heavy rain causes flooding

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WILLMAR -- For the second time this year, heavy rain caused street and neighborhood flooding at the intersection of 10th Street and Kandiyohi Avenue Southwest in Willmar Friday morning. Rainfall amounts ranging from 3.12 to almost 4½ inches between about 4:30 to about 8 a.m. also caused temporary flooding in other low-lying parts of town.

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Water covered the front lawn, flooded the back yard and entered the basement through a rear trap door at Catherine Kallevig's home located just west of the intersection. It wasn't the first time the home she's owned for the past eight years has been affected by high water.

"The former owner said they did not have water in the basement. But when I talked to other people in the neighborhood, they said there had been water in the basement many, many times,'' Kallevig said Friday morning after walking the dogs.

Kallevig said she doesn't have anything in the basement anymore where about a foot of water was standing.

"The litter box is floating around. Other than that, there's not a whole lot of stuff down there. Clean it up again, I guess,'' she said.

The depression in the property just east of her home, where the flood-damaged Warren and Jan Lee Jorgenson home had been located, was holding some water. Kallevig worries water may cause the foundation of her home to cave in as it did with the Jorgenson home in August 2007.

The city bought and removed the Jorgenson house after settling a lawsuit the couple filed against the city over the flood damage.

"I just really, really worry about what the ground is like underneath this house,'' she said. "I think they should take this house and sell and I'd like to be moved into something different.''

The intersection last flooded on April 13. Kallevig's neighbor, Laura Becker, whose home has been affected by high water in the past, was dry this time although water did come up into the front yard. A landscape planter built by Becker and her husband helps protect the house.

Becker said cars were stalled and she called the city Public Works Department to place cones in the street and block traffic. Becker said she urged a Public Works employee to not drive through the intersection and cause waves to wash up on flooded property.

Across the street, Anne Lankey at 1005 Kandiyohi Ave. S.W., stood at her front door and saw the waterline marked by leaves halfway up her front yard.

"We've seen it before and I can hardly stand when it does this again to look at it,'' she said. "We can handle our four corners of water. But it's when it backs up wherever this water goes, and comes back and gushes up the manhole covers, and we're getting everybody's water then. I can't understand why it can't just go one way and not back up to us.''

Scott Ledeboer, Public Works foreman, said flooding also occurred on Fifth and Seventh Streets Southwest, on 19th Avenue Southeast near the Kandi Mall, and the service drives along U.S. Highway 12 East.

"We had a lot of street flooding,'' said Ledeboer. He said everything was clear by 11 a.m.

City officials and citizens who have been studying possible solutions to storm water flooding for the last couple of years say the problem recurs due to generally high ground water table, the region's generally flat topography, and lack of storage or runoff areas.

Tim Johnson represents southwest Willmar's Second Ward on the City Council. He said the problem seems to be getting worse than better. He moved from a house at 10th Street and Rice Avenue Southwest 27 years ago but remembers 10th and Kandiyohi flooding before that.

"It is a problem that needs to be addressed,'' said Johnson. "City staff is conscious of it. It's difficult to deal with, though, with where we can run all this water in and how fast. We're a long way from solving it, it looks like to me.''

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David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150
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