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U.S. Senator Al Franken toured Montevideo and Granite Falls on Saturday after visits to a number of communities along the Red River. Franken, left, and Mayor Dave Smiglewski of Granite Falls view the waters of the Minnesota River pour over the Granite Falls dam. (Tribune photo by Tom Cherveny)

Montevideo raising Highway 212 levee

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news Willmar, 56201
West Central Tribune
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Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

MONTEVIDEO -- Work is under way this morning to raise a one-mile stretch of the levee on U.S. Highway 212 in Montevideo. Volunteers are also filling sandbags to have at the ready.

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These and other advanced measures come in response to expectations that the Minnesota River will reach 19.9 feet in Montevideo this afternoon. The newly projected crest is more than a 1½ feet higher than what was projected last week, and it comes a day earlier than was expected.

The newly revised forecast issued by the National Weather Service on Saturday has both Montevideo and Granite Falls taking additional steps to prepare for the higher waters. The waters are projected to remain at the new levels through Thursday and remain high for the foreseeable forecast period.

Montevideo wants to remain "cautious but safe'' in its flood preparation efforts, said Mayor Jim Curtiss. He said on Sunday that the city was notifying residents in the Smith Addition that sewer services were to be shut off there in the evening as waters were to top the 18.5-foot level.

The work on the Highway 212 levee and will connect it the main levee, which was already raised on Thursday and Friday. The work will provide the city with protection to the 25-foot level, or five feet above the currently projected crest.

The city has not issued a call for volunteers. The city's volunteer firefighters were planning to recruit help and fill a supply of bags as a contingency measure today, Curtiss said.

The city will also be closing roads in some low areas as part of the flood preparations.

Work was also under way on Sunday in Granite Falls to protect a sanitary lift station on Minnesota Avenue with sandbags in preparation for rising waters. The newly revised forecast calls for the river to rise to 892.8 feet this evening, which is about 2½ feet below the levels reached in 2001.

The Minnesota River was expected to reach an elevation on Sunday night at which some of its waters would begin following a natural overflow channel north of the community. The waters would cross a portion of a township road. The overflow channel will bring waters along the western and southern edges of the community.

Granite Falls Mayor Dave Smiglewski said the city is keeping a close eye on the water levels. Flood mitigation efforts that have removed homes and businesses in the city's most flood-vulnerable areas have greatly reduced worries in the community, he said.

Both mayors and other officials in Montevideo and Granite Falls hosted U.S. Sen. Al Franken on Saturday. The visit was an opportunity for both towns to show the senator where future flood mitigation work is sought and to outline the preparations under way for this year's waters.

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Tom Cherveny
Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
(320) 214-4335
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