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Rising waters closing roads, raising concerns in western Minnesota

Photo courtesy of Dawson Police Department / Chief Andrew Stock An area 1 mile east of Dawson is flooded over right up to the railroad crossing as of 6 p.m. Monday as waters from the Lac qui Parle River continue to rise.1 / 8
Photo courtesy of Dawson Police Department / Chief Andrew Stock Homeowners along Pine Street in Dawson have installed a barrier, hoping to hold the flood waters back from the lac qui Parle River.2 / 8
Photo courtesy of Dawson Police Department / Chief Andrew Stock An ice jam clogs up the Lac qui Parle River through Dawson about 5 p.m. Monday as show in this shot taken from the railroad bridge near Diagonal Street and Fourth Street.3 / 8
Photo courtesy of Dawson Police Department / Chief Andrew Stock Dawson is continuing its flood fight after the Lac qui Parle River, which had appeared to have crested Sunday, rose slightly again on Monday. The river was at 40.86 feet late Monday afternoon, which compares to a 41.1 record crest in 1997.4 / 8
Carolyn Lange / Tribune Photo The Pomme de Terre River was roaring at a fast clip Monday through Appleton.5 / 8
Photo courtesy of Dawson Police Department / Chief Andrew Stock Water runs over Fifth Street and Locust Street Monday in Dawson. 6 / 8
Photo courtesy of Dawson Police Department / Chief Andrew Stock Ice is going out at noon Monday on the Lac qui Parle River near Sixth Street in Dawson.7 / 8
Photo courtesy of Dawson Police Department / Chief Andrew Stock Water runs over Fifth Street and Locust Street Monday in Dawson. 8 / 8

DAWSON — Rising waters are closing roads and causing communities to ramp up flood protection in areas of the region.

The most widespread problems are being reported in Lac qui Parle County, where the rising waters have forced the closure of roadways in many parts of the county.

Rising waters have also led Renville County to close roads crossing the Minnesota River, which is expected to continue to rise in the days ahead. As of Monday, Renville County Roads 6, 12, 1 and 5 were closed where they meet the Minnesota River, according to Public Works Director Jeff Marlowe.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation closed a portion of Highway 75 south of Madison in Lac qui Parle on Monday, and put a detour into effect.

The rising waters have "take a toll on county and township roads" throughout Lac qui Parle County, according to Blaine Johnson, emergency management director. He reported that as of Monday morning, 71 sections of roadway in the county had been closed due to flooding, representing 81 miles.

"Many of these sections are washed out and damaged and will require repairs come summer,'' stated Johnon in a news release.

Dawson is continuing its flood fight after the Lac qui Parle River, which had appeared to have crested Sunday, rose slightly again on Monday. The river was at 40.86 feet late Monday afternoon, which compares to a 41.1 record crest in 1997.

Dawson City Manager Tami Schuelke-Sampson said sandbagging was underway to protect residences in the Dawson area as a result of the river's rise on Monday. Sandbags had been placed around two homes in the community last weekend.

Also in Dawson, the flood waters cover the football and baseball fields, as well as a portion of the city park along the river and Ash Street. Several city roads are flooded due to the backup of the underground drainage system.

The city has closed the underground storm sewer and activated a pumping system to move water flowing within the city over a levee protecting the wastewater treatment plant. The city was able to bring in additional pumps, including some from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to keep ahead of the water.

Hawk Creek

Ice jams on Hawk Creek led Clara City to mobilize an incident team and sandbag homes and businesses that were threatened by rising waters on Sunday morning. While waters flooded some streets on the south end of the community, the effort to sandbag prevented damage to at least a couple of different homes and businesses, according to Windy Block, city administrator.

The city was able to dislodge the ice, and on Monday the water appeared to be coming down. The challenge, said Block, is the lack of upstream gauges to provide real-time information on the flow, as well as the lack of flood forecast information for the waterway from the National Weather Service. He said city officials are hopeful waters will recede and, if so, some 2,500 sandbags can be moved to Montevideo for the flood fight anticipated there.

As of Monday afternoon, the city of Maynard was preparing to place sandbags to protect homes on the south side of state Highway 23 where ice jamming on Hawk Creek was backing up water. Public Works Director Steve Miller said late Monday afternoon that the community was preparing to sandbag, but was still hoping the ice jam would open and alleviate the danger.

Minnesota River

Montevideo continues to fill sandbags in anticipation of major flood waters. The National Weather Service is expecting the Minnesota River to reach 21.5 feet on Saturday, as compared to the 23.9 feet crest in 1997.

The city has set up a sandbag station in the Smith Addition, where residents are able to get sandbags and fill them, according to Aaron Blom, utilities director. The city is also adding clay to the older portion of its levee, and will be placing sandbags to raise it later this week.

"We're preparing for the worst and hoping for the best,'' said Blom. The city will close the sewer line to the Smith Addition and close a railroad crossing as waters rise in the days ahead.

Downstream in Granite Falls, Yellow Medicine County Emergency Management is making sandbags available beginning today at the county shop in Granite Falls on a first come, first served basis. They will refill bags as needed.

The National Weather Service is forecasting the Minnesota River will rise in Granite Falls by about eight feet through the week to a crest of 892 feet on Saturday, which is below the 899.84 crest in 1997.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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