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Owners of Rapidan Dam Store evacuate as river swallows up nearby home

Southern Minnesota dam fails, threatening homes and businesses
Southern Minnesota dam fails, threatening homes and businesses 02:20

Update (June 25, 2024): Tuesday night, the Blue Earth County officials said most of the home owned by the proprietors of the nearby Rapidan Dam Store had collapsed into the river. An update will be provided Wednesday morning.

RAPIDAN TOWNSHIP, Minn. — Jenny Barnes and her family have owned the Rapidan Dam Store for half a century. She often works through the night, baking pies. 

Around 2 a.m. Monday, she heard loud bangs, saw flashes of light and knew the river was getting too close for comfort.

"The water is re-routing and it's re-routing towards our house — my dad's house. He's lived there over 50 years," Barnes said.

The bangs and flashes were a result of the flooded Blue Earth River taking out an Xcel Energy substation on a county shed. It re-routed because of the debris piled up against the Rapidan Dam, putting pressure on the structure. 

The house along the Rapidan Dam and Blue Earth River fell in late Tuesday night. AW Aerial

Power poles and trees were also taken out, and Barnes' dad's house could be next.

"It's very close to the house. We had to evacuate this morning, get as much as we could out. All the freezers and such," Barnes said.

Throughout much of Monday, the river continued to carve out the ground below the long-time family home, leaving the east side of the house hanging over a cliff.

"For some people, this is a historic monument. For us, it's a life-altering event," said Shannon Whittet.

As Blue Earth County sheriff's deputies made sure on-lookers stayed safe, Barnes was coming to terms with possibly losing her dad's house. But she's still hopeful their iconic store will be spared.

"It's my childhood. I grew up in the house, I grew up in the dam store. I've been there all my life," Barnes said.

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