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Renville County takes brunt of high-water problems in western Minn.

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Renville County takes brunt of high-water problems in western Minn.
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

OLIVIA — With seven of its nine roads crossing the Minnesota River closed, Renville County has taken the brunt of the problems associated with the heavy June rains.

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It will be days before all of the roads can reopen, but things are improving, according to Renville County Public Works Director Jeff Marlowe.

“The river is starting to go down. Slowly,’’ said Marlowe.

So far, the county engineer has not seen any signs of significant damage to the county roads. He knows of one washed out culvert. A number of township roads had to be temporarily closed Thursday morning after heavy rains drenched the area.

Neighboring counties have also been dealing with the problems caused by heavy rains and rising waterways. Chippewa County Engineer Steve Kubista said the county has had to close one road where water has overtopped it. Many gravel roads have been saturated and softened.

Yellow Medicine County had to close a portion of County Road 35, and has had water affecting roads in the Spring Creek drainage area and southeastern portion of the county, according to Larry Stoks, county highway maintenance director.  A number of township roads had to be closed temporarily due to Thursday’s rains, notably in the Hanley Falls and Wood Lake areas.

Communities along Hawk Creek are breathing easier this week as water levels drop. Clara City Administrator Windy Block estimated that the waterway had receded by about 3 feet from its crest a couple of days ago.

City staff in both Raymond and Clara City placed pumps to handle the excessive flows into sewer systems, but no major damage was reported. As has been the case throughout the region, homeowners have dealt with wet basements attributed to the heavy downpours.

The heavy rains have been a significant problem for Duininck Companies in Clara City, where workers are in the midst of a major infrastructure project to replace sanitary and storm sewer lines, noted Block.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reported on Tuesday that it is discharging water from the Lac qui Parle reservoir at 13,000 cubic feet per second. The Minnesota River is at flood stage in Montevideo. It’s predicted to crest this morning at over 17.5 feet, or near what is termed “major flood” stage.

Montevideo has closed access to Lagoon Park and the Gravel Road, but has not experienced any significant problems directly related to the rising river.

“Ten years ago this would be a different story,’’ said Montevideo City Manager Steve Jones.

Flood mitigation efforts have removed many of the properties that would otherwise be threatened by a crest of this level. The expected crest will rank as either the 10th or 11th highest in the record books. It will be either the first or second highest crest for a June event, he said.

Downstream, Granite Falls is also reporting no major problems associated with the rising river. It is expected to crest there on Thursday.

The Minnesota River was reported to be 6 to 7 inches from topping a portion of a Dike Road north of the community. In flood events, a portion of the water will top the road and flow into a former glacial channel.

Granite Falls City Manager Bill Lavin said the river has topped the banks of the downtown alleyway, and some sandbags were placed along the river to protect an American Legion Club building at the municipal dam.

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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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