Heavy rain causes flooding
Monday morning brought rain and thunderstorms into Steele County and the surrounding counties. Although the majority of Steele County did not see any flooding the southern portion of the county had some problem areas arise.
Owatonna Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director Mike Johnson said the heaviest rainfall was in the New Richland area, however there were also some isolated flood spots in Ellendale.
“We have heavy rain in the southern edge of the county. Some areas reported up to 3.1 inches,” Johnson said Monday morning. “There was no structure damage reported, which is a good thing. I-90 in Austin was closed because of flooding, but we are not getting any flooding on our waterways right now.”
Johnson was not aware of any accidents or public safety concerns arising from the floods and the winds that passed through. According to the National Weather Service wind speeds ranged from 10 to 15 mph at times with gust of up to 30 mph.
The main problem arose in private residencies basements.
“Right now it is what I call isolated flooding, flooded basements, things like that. This is not going to be a state of emergency where it is affecting roads and things. It is individual homeowners dealing with the problem of flooding,” Johnson said.
Johnson offered some advice of how to better protect residents’ home. “Many times it can be simple things such as cleaning their eaves troughs, making sure their downspouts and things are attached to drain the water away from their structures. Other times there are backups into the homes. If it is sanitary sewer back ups you can install a check valve, which is really a highly recommended item that prevents that from happening.”
In Blooming Prairie rainfall caused flooding, not only in farmer’s fields, but in town as well. According to Blooming Prairie Police Chief Greg Skillestad, the worst flooding spots were on Main Street by the park and 3rd Street. Skillestad was quick to ask residents to do their part, not only during the current flooding, but also in preventing future flooding.
“We have to have people make sure they don’t drive through the water,” said Skillestad, adding that a car stuck on the road is a hazard to other drivers.
Skillestad said the street department had a difficult task unplugging drains and flushing sewers, adding that because of the recent rainfall, residents have been mowing more often and blowing their grass clippings onto the road. While the amount of flooding is comparable to recent years, the drains clogged with grass could be the cause of this year’s main problems, according to Skillestad.
“That can plug drains and cause more flooding,” said Skillestad. “It’s causing a really big issue, and we’re asking residents to keep grass clippings off the road. It’s a serious ongoing issue.”
Flash flood warnings were mainly in Iowa, however Mower County had a flash flood warning in effect until 10 a.m. Monday.
Steele County Management maintains an on call state of readiness 24 hours a day, seven days a week through its programs such as Severe Weather Spotter Program (SKYWARN), Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) and Community Awareness Emergency Response Team (CAER).
“We have a really good weather network of spotters from the Steele County SKYWARN and the fire departments spotters. They are out there to keep tabs of what is going on and if need be they put out the emergency warnings and they also give us good weather reports after the storm goes through,” Johnson said.
County Sports Editor James Knoop contributed to this report.