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Waterville residents work to fill sandbags as Cannon River floods neighborhoods

Waterville residents underwater as Cannon River floods
Waterville residents underwater as Cannon River floods 02:33

WATERVILLE, Minn. — Parts of Minnesota are experiencing major flooding because of the excessive rain pouring into the state. Waterville is one place that's living up to its name.

The Cannon River runs through two big lakes surrounding the town about an hour south of the Twin Cities. With more rain in the forecast, residents are bracing for the flooding to get worse before it gets better.

Maria and Bob Stoering have lived in their Waterville home near the lake since 1987. But now, their home is becoming one with the lake, as floodwaters creep into their yard. 

"The yard will be a mess," Maria Stoering said.

The couple just bought a new sump pump, which is working overtime.     

Waterville calls for volunteers to fill sandbags as Cannon River swells 03:08

"It's scary because if the electricity goes off, as it went off the other night, then the sump pump won't run and then our basement would be flooded," she said.

Around the corner lives Gail Hildebrant.   

"I am kayaking because I can't get in and out of my property. I'm totally on a private island and I have a mote around my castle," Hildebrant said. 

She has seen tadpoles and carp swimming in her yard. Her home is still dry. It was raised 4 feet after a big flood in 2014. 

"What they said is the level of my house should serve me for the next 100-year flood, which the 100-year floods happen every five years (laughs)!" she said. 

On Friday, volunteers gathered to fill sandbags as the town braced for more flooding. It's that small town mentality that might just save Bill Struve's dental practice.

"There have been times when there's been water over the road but nothing like this," said Struve. 

Struve has been a dentist for decades and he's seen flooding before, but this is the first time he's been worried about some of his dental equipment getting damaged.

"This is the Cannon Lake system and we have a lot of rain coming in from the north. That's a problem. You got three or four areas that drain from the north and it's slow going out of here so we will see what happens," said Struve. 

Waterville residents work to put up sandbags to prepare for more flooding 02:45

At least he's getting a hand from not only neighbors, but also clients.

"We thought it was just preventive, it won't get that high, I came today and I was like oh my God. I started calling patients, like, can you help us? We're going to be under water here," said Peggi Rohner. 

Within a matter of hours the water went from the front of the dental practice, up the street, and it's now getting closer to several homes. That's adding to the urgency in Waterville.

"Even from this morning it's creeped up a lot. This wasn't even in our front yard before so it's getting pretty scary," said Lyndsay Carlson.

As the rain continues, sandbaggers quickly worked to protect Carlson's house, one of many getting attention in a waterlogged Waterville. Knowing that volunteers are willing to step up gives her piece of mind.

"I'm from a small town and I always said I would live in a small town because that community is where it's at. They all come together when you need it," said Carlson. 

With rain falling much of the day, people around town say they aren't sure when the floodwaters will crest. City leaders say if anyone wants to help sandbag, more volunteers are welcome.

Volunteers will be filling sandbags in town during two sessions on Friday: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Volunteers must be 18 or older and are asked to dress for the weather and wear closed-toe shoes.

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