Nearly half of Minnesota under "unprecedented" flooding, and some rivers are at or above record levels (2024)

MINNEAPOLIS —Massive flooding is now impacting nearly half of Minnesota. As of Thursday morning, more than 20 river gauges across the Upper Midwest have hit major flood stage, with more rain expected in flood-soaked areas.

Water levels on the Minnesota, Mississippi and Missouri rivers are expected to see their highest levels in at least a decade.

On Wednesday, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz urged impacted residents to "keep their receipts" to get financial aid faster, as property damage continues to grow by the hour.

"Right now we are in the assessment phase," Walz said. "Until some of the water recedes, we won't have the full picture of that."

State of emergency declared in St. Paul


St. Paul officials declared a state of emergency on Wednesday as it braces for the brunt of flooding from the Mississippi River, which is expected to rise another few feet by this weekend.

Nearly half of Minnesota under "unprecedented" flooding, and some rivers are at or above record levels (1)

The State Emergency Operations Center is responding as flooding worsens. When local first responders and volunteers are overwhelmed, local governments can ask this group to step up. They fill in wherever they're needed, assisting with the departments of health, public safety and transportation.

"Been in water rescue my entire life. This is some of the most difficult conditions I've ever seen," said John Cunningham, assistant commissioner of emergency services for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. "Stay out of the water. Don't go anywhere near it. Things can change."

Video shows home on Rapidan Dam partially collapsing into river

Theraging Blue Earth River, which causedan abutment of the 114-year-old Rapidan Dam to partially fail, has now swallowed most ofthe iconic homethat sits on a nearby embankment amidMinnesota's historic flooding.

Blue Earth County officials say the collapse occurred on Tuesday evening and they continue to monitor for possible impacts downstream.

The dam sits just south of Mankato, which is dealing with plenty of damage of its own. The city has set up a debris drop-off site for people with a lot of trash they need to get rid of. It will be open Thursday and Friday from noon to 8 p.m.

The dam remains in "imminent failure condition" on Thursday. Blue Earth County Public Works Director Ryan Thilges said on Tuesday the breach threat has diminished, though officials are still concerned because the dam was built on sandstone bedrock that can further erode.

Thilges says the dam itself was not breached. Instead, he described it as a "partial failure of the west abutment." The structure is intact but water continues to flow around it, eroding the slope and forcing an evacuation of the family home of the owners of the Rapidan Dam Store.

Blue Earth County Sheriff Jeff Wersal said the water level in a "catastrophic event would not be that significant."

The National Inventory of Dams rated the Rapidan Dam in poor condition as of April 2023, classifying its hazard potential as "significant."

The Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission are still assessing the damage.

Waterville remains in state of emergency

Walz activated the Minnesota National Guard over the weekend to help with flooding in Waterville, where the Cannon River runs through the Tetonka and Sakatah lakes which surround the town. By Monday afternoon, there were 44 guard members there to help pump water.

Waterville officials say this is the worst flooding the town has ever seen. Parts of the city are underwater due to 14 to 18 inches of cumulative rainfall. Some areas are worse than others, with flood water knee-deep to hip-deep.

Michael Hildebrant, a lifelong resident of Waterville, hitched an unlikely ride to check on his home Monday — a ride by canoe through flooded streets.

"Everything's pretty well floating around, my TV's underwater. The refrigerator got popped up in the air. My bed is under, yeah, it's been a long time since I've seen anything like this," Hildebrant said.

One thousand volunteers filled and distributed 60,000 sandbags this weekend. It's still unknown when the flood fight will end as residents prepare for potentially more storms ahead.

Sens. Klobuchar and Tina Smith and Rep. Angie Craig toured the town on Sunday. So far, there have only been voluntary evacuations, with water, electricity and sewer operations still functioning.

Klobuchar and Smith said flood damages need to exceed about $132,000 locally in the county, or $10.5 million in damages statewide, for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to step in.

"We've been from this area our whole lives and this is the worst we've seen it," said resident Lonnie Roemhildt. "And they say it's only going to get worse. And so, we're just bracing. And hopefully, it's not going to get any worse than it is."

While the impact is far from over, people who live there say they are encouraged by the support of others.

Le Sueur County has set up a fund through Frandsen Bank and Trust. Donations can be madeonlineor bymail.

Many agencies are turning out to help, including the American Red Cross, which set up a shelter at The Village in Waterville off North 1st Street. The shelter is one of a handful set up across Minnesota with other locations in Jackson, Mandelia, Cook and Duluth.

There are also several locations in South Dakota, which has also been impacted by devastating floods.

The Red Cross says shelters are a great and safe place for people affected by the floods to stay and find essential resources including food, water, emotional support and more information on how to begin picking up the pieces.

Anyone in need of help, or would like to help, can call 1-800-RED-CROSS.

Cannon River crests in Northfield at possible record level

Experts believethe Cannon River has finally crested in Northfield, reaching 901.52 feet above sea level on Sunday at about 8 p.m.

If confirmed by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, it would break the previous record of 901.5 feet set in 2010. The river level began to decrease early Monday morning.

The community is trying to minimize water damage, with riverside businesses protected by a wall comprised of thousands of sandbags.

Northfield Police Chief Mark Elliot says he expects the river to remain at flood stage through this Friday.

WCCO spoke about the flooding on Monday with Sarah Fortner, Carleton College's director of sustainability.

"From a climate change perspective, we're having amplified hydrology in Minnesota, so a lot more flood events than used to happen in the past," Fortner said. "I think there were five 100-year floods in the last 15 years, and this might be six."

City leaders urge people not to bike or walk through barricaded areas, and to call 911 for any emergencies.

Floodwaters devastate Jackson


Volunteers in Jackson, about 30 minutes west of Worthington, are working to reinforce dikes and flood mitigation tools along the Des Moines River on Tuesday, as flood waters are expected to rise 2 feet.

Nearly half of Minnesota under "unprecedented" flooding, and some rivers are at or above record levels (2)

Carver's levee keeping Minnesota River at bay

Minnesota's senators also visited nearby Carver in Sunday, where the community is hoping their current flood protection will hold up to the rising Minnesota River.

A 1960s-era levee is preventing things from going bad to worse, but local leaders say they need repairs to make sure it can still protect the community.

Klobuchar says she will do more at the federal level to prevent damaging floods from happening again.

City leaders say they could make repairs and improve the current levee with federal assistance.

The nearest water measurement spot for the Minnesota River is 18 miles downstream in Jordan. The National Water Prediction Service is forecasting the river to crest on Thursday, just a foot below the record of 35 feet.

Rice County residents race to protect property

Neighbors in other parts of Rice County — including Faribault, Morristown, Warsaw and Dundas — are working to protect their homes and businesses from rising waterafter 10 inches of rain fell in just 12 days.

County residents can now drop off anything damaged by the rising waters at the county's solid waste facility.

In Faribault, Teepee Tonka Park and White Sands Dog Park are closed to both vehicle and pedestrian traffic. The following roads are also closed:

  • Western Avenue, between Grant Street to Baker Trail
  • Seventh Street, between Western and Park avenues
  • Park Avenue, between 30th Street and 32nd Street Northwest

The city's compost site is also closed until further notice.

Nearly half of Minnesota under "unprecedented" flooding, and some rivers are at or above record levels (3)

In Warsaw, the owner of Dock's Dock Campground says the area went from just a few puddles on the ground on Saturday to completely underwater on Sunday. Residents there filled 3,000 sandbags on Sunday alone.

The Dundas Dukes baseball team posted photos to X/Twitter on Saturday showing their work in sandbagging their field. By Sunday, however, it was all underwater.

8 am Sunday. pic.twitter.com/xOhsryitj9

— Dundas Dukes (@DundasDukes) June 23, 2024

Other highway closures in southern Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Transportation says Highway 93 between Highway 169 and Le Sueur is closed due to flooding.

In Jackson, just north of the Iowa border in south-central Minnesota, Highway 71 remains closed, with traffic detoured to Interstate 90, Highway 86 and County Road 34.

Flooding has closed both east and westbound routes of Highway 14 due to flooding.

Owatonna saw more than 4 inches of rain in the past several days, causing flooding of local parks and rivers.

Henderson residents enduring extreme detours

In Henderson, Highway 19 West is the only way to get in or out of the town due to flooding and existing construction on roads to combat frequent flooding in the area from the Minnesota River.Flooding in St. Louis County

Superior National Forest issues emergency closure

On Monday, the Superior National Forest issued an emergency forest closure effective immediately due to storm damage.

All roads, trails, canoe routes, recreation sites and wilderness entry points are shut down until further notice.

"Storm damage is extensive across the forest and assessments are ongoing across all 3 million acres," said forest supervisor Tom Hall. "The safety of our visitors, residents and staff is our priority while we work to further identify damaged areas, clear affected areas, and fix the infrastructure that is damaged."

J. Lambert with the National Forest Service snapped a photo of a sinkhole in the Gunflint Ranger District on Monday that looks big enough to cause damage to most vehicles.

Nearly half of Minnesota under "unprecedented" flooding, and some rivers are at or above record levels (4)

The forest's closure is in effect until June 24, 2026, or until terminated — whichever occurs first.

Visitors are encouraged to use extreme caution in the BWCAW and across the Superior National Forest.

Road closed in Burnsville due to Minnesota River flooding

Officials in Burnsville say Black Dog Road is closed from Interstate 35W to the Eagan board due to flooding from the Minnesota River.

Fort Snelling State Park

Fort Snelling State Park is closed until flood waters recede and crews can address related clean-up and repairs. The rising water from the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers is expected to flood the park's main road.

Crow River flooding in Delano

The Crow River in Delanopassed into the early flood stage on Saturday morning. Earlier this week, residents in town installed metal flood walls, an alternative to sandbagging. It's the third time since 2015 that residents have put up the walls.

Stillwater postpones Independence Day events

Due to flooding in Lowell Park, the City of Stillwater made the decision on Wednesday to postpone its 4th of July fireworks and festivities. A new date has not been set yet.

Routes to Grey Cloud Island close

The City of Cottage Grove closed the bridge and causeway to Lower Grey Cloud Island over the Mississippi River to both pedestrian and vehicle traffic.

The Grey Cloud Trail Bridge closed on Wednesday. The Grey Cloud Drive Causeway will close at noon on Friday.

    In:
  • Minnesota
  • Flooding

WCCO Staff

The WCCO Staff is a group of experienced journalists who bring you the content on WCCO.com.

Nearly half of Minnesota under "unprecedented" flooding, and some rivers are at or above record levels (2024)

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