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Amid Rapid Warm-Up, Minnesota Floodwaters On The Rise

HENDERSON, Minn. (WCCO) -- When a flooded boat landing along the Minnesota River scuttled plans to launch an inspection boat, MnDOT bridge crew workers did the next best thing – they lowered it into the water with the help of a crane.

The rising river means bridge piers have to be inspected for potential washouts around the concrete footings.

"There's more snowmelt to the west, so we're going to get a few more feet," said Henderson city administrator, Lon Berberich.

Henderson's biggest asset -- being framed by the meandering Minnesota River -- can also be its biggest springtime curse.

A swollen creek washed out a dirt road south of town over the weekend. Now, with the Minnesota River on the rise, main roads into town could also be closed, slamming both commerce and commuters.

"There's some pretty big numbers when we're shut off for days," Berberich said. "Just a single day makes a big difference."

All that water draining off tiled farm fields ends up in ditches and creeks that flow into the Minnesota watershed. Driving around the countryside, you can see the heavy and rich soil will take many more days of drainage and drying before fieldwork is performed.

"We had almost 18 inches of snow one weekend and the next weekend it's all trying to melt," said landowner Steve Alseth. "So you get a lot of water all at once."

The rapid warmup is both welcome and worrisome.

Terry Carlson lost her home in a 2014 mudslide after a bout of heavy rains. To Carlson, keeping an eye on floodwaters comes naturally.

"It's just part of life," she said. "Spring comes and you expect it and everybody looks out for it and takes care of themselves."

The National Weather Service has already posted a flood warning downriver, near Jordan.

According to the forecast, the river is expected to rise nearly three feet over flood stage on Wednesday with minor flooding expected.


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