Drying out, but out of the woods?

SOUTHWEST MINNESOTA – Water has been slowly receding from flooded fields and overwhelmed ditches since the heavy rain the area received more than a week ago, but more rain and thunderstorms are likely this weekend and will only add to the region’s troubles.

The National Weather Service has placed southwest Minnesota in a Hazardous Weather Outlook, forecasting scattered to numerous thunderstorms and a potential for hail. The NWS also said that there will be a threat of heavy rainfall in the area and the possibility of severe storms Sunday evening.

Since the beginning of June, southwestern Minnesota has seen rainfall totals of just more than 20 inches in some areas. Marshall, Granite Falls, Slayton and Montevideo reported just under 10 inches for the month. Redwood Falls reported a little more than 12 inches, and Edgerton reported almost 22 inches of rain.

The city of Cottonwood was flooded after receiving more than 10 inches of rain the night of June 18. Pumps were brought in to move water away from homes, and water-logged roads are now open.

The city’s sewer restriction was lifted earlier this week, and residents have been able to resume normal water use, according to the city of Cottonwood’s website. But residents are cautioned to check back on the website in case of any further heavy rains and another restriction would have to be put in place. The city’s website also said that dumpsters will be available at the city shop on 4th Street North for flood debris.

A press release from the Southwest Minnesota Chapter of the American Red Cross reported that it “recently completed an assessment of 200 homes in the city of Cottonwood, providing Red Cross cleanup kits and flood recovery tips. The cleanup kits included mops, buckets, bleach, gloves, cleaning products and “other necessities to start dealing with the flooding damage,” the release said.

The End-O-Line Railroad Park and Museum in Currie was surrounded by water last week and there were concerns of buildings flooding, but Janet Timmerman, Murray County Museum Coordinator said “miraculously, we got prepped enough that there was no damage. We sandbagged around the gift shop, and the water only got up to the first row.”

There is still standing water in low-lying areas of the park, including the southern grounds that brought the Des Moines River above the bellies of the park’s buffalo statues on the grounds.

“The water came up to an inch of the floorboards in the general store and grist mill,” Timmerman said. “A sump pump also quit in the Presbyterian church basement, but we got it fixed, and it’s drying out now.” The park has reopened to visitors, but a few attractions will remain closed.

“We’re open for business, but we can’t take people into the back two buildings, and we can’t use the turntable until the water is gone. But we welcome everybody out,” Timmerman said. There is still three feet of water in the turntable, and the water on the grounds will be there for a while, as it has to seep out through the ground.

In Granite Falls, the Minnesota River has crested and brought water levels up in town. Mayor Dave Smiglewski reported that water over the alleyway behind main street is “probably three feet high.” Across the river, the park area between the river and the road is also flooded. Smiglewski estimated that 80 to 90 percent of that area was under water.

“I don’t think it will go down for a long time,” Smiglewski said. “I think its going to drift down very slowly. It probably won’t go down for another two or three weeks. The Minnesota River can attribute some of its flooding to the Lac qui Parle River, which also has a dam and flows into the Minnesota River.

“The Lac qui Parle reservoir is releasing water, and they are about as full as it can get there, so they’re releasing what they can,” Smiglewski said. “Our dam in Granite Falls that is owned by the city has its two flood gates open.” He gave credit to the mitigation work that has been accomplished for keeping the town dry and not causing any damage to buildings downtown.

“We’re okay for the time being,” Smiglewski said. “There’s an overflow channel that goes around town, and the river is within about two feet from going over.”