GALLERY: Flooding Amid Torrential Rains
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) -- Storms with heavy rain saturated the Twin Cities area, temporarily closing major highways, stranding motorists and forcing some to the south to leave their flooded homes.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation used snow plows to push off Interstate 94 in Maple Grove early Thursday. Drivers abandoned their vehicles, which sat in flood water at some intersections.
The Associated Press reported an undetermined number of people left their flooded homes in Waseca, about 75 miles south of the Twin Cities. WCCO meteorologist Matt Brickman said the area received an entire summer's worth of rain in just the last two days -- over 13 inches.
Waseca officials recommended no unnecessary travel for the remainder of Thursday morning, or until the water subsided.
Officials in Rochester said some highways in southeast Minnesota remained closed due to water in the roadway as of 9:30 a.m., including Highway 60 west of Kenyon, Highway 65 in Albert Lea, and Highway 16 west of Lanesboro.
Just north of Rochester in Goodhue County, Wanamingo's City Park and wastewater treatment plant were hit hard. The area received five inches of rain and is near the Zumbro River.
Residents in Albert Lea were being asked to limit their water usage for the time being, in order to prevent basement backups.
The flash flood emergency expired at 4 a.m. for parts of Hennepin and Anoka Counties. The National Weather Service issued it because 6 to 9 inches of rain had already fallen Wednesday night and more was expected.
Videos posted to social media showed streets turning into rivers in Maple Grove.
Authorities warned people to stay off the roads because of the flash flooding, but many people ignored that warning. A video shared to WCCO's Facebook page shows flash flooding in northeast Minneapolis, where drivers eventually started passing through that water on Central Avenue.
The decision was made to shut down both directions of Interstate 694 at Highway 169 because of flooding on the roadway.
The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office urged residents Wednesday night to avoid unnecessary travel as water rose on area roads. The National Weather Service office in Chanhassen said flash flood emergencies are very rarely issued in the U.S., and it's the first time one's been issued in the Twin Cities as far as they can tell.
Following the heavy rain and flooding, Hennepin County reminded people that they should not ignore "road closed" signs. Officials say 50 percent of all drownings related to floods happen when people drive vehicles into dangerous flood waters.
The storm system was bringing heavy rain from Iowa, across southern Minnesota and into much of Wisconsin.
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