Reporting Bill Hudson
AITKIN, Minn. (WCCO) – Minnesota’s vacation-land, Aitkin County, is rolling out a water-logged welcome mat.
Heavy rains last week mean flood waters are still rising in parts of the state. The area around Duluth was devastated by high waters. Now, it’s along the Mississippi River in Aitkin County, which is about 2 and a half hours north of the Twin Cities.
Near Big Sandy Lake, Highway 65 has water flowing over it. There are temporary stoplights in place to allow a single lane of traffic to splash through.
Cabins, roads and boatlifts around the lake are underwater. Recent heavy rains have pushed the lake 6 feet above normal.
With the Sandy River the same level as the lake, this Army Corp Dam offers no control!
“There’s nowhere for the water to go. The river as high as the dam now, so pretty soon it’s just going to be a wash. Crazy, it’s just crazy,” said Paul Lallas, a Big Sandy cabin owner.
Closer to Aitkin, it’s the rising Rice River that has flooded homeowner Charles Teal worried.
“Without warning, in two days, it came up six to seven feet,” said Teal.
Teal has already lost tractors, trucks and a vintage Camaro. The only way in and out of homes is by boat.
In the city of Aitkin, pumps grind away, as businesses try keeping ahead of the still rising Rice.
“We’ve been over pumping out the neighbors, supplying fresh water. Everybody’s coming together,” said Teal.
Aitkin County Sheriff Scott Turner says, so far, there’ve been no evacuations.
In general, aside from some rural road closures, tourists and cabin owners should be able to get to where they’re going. However, the main exception is around Big Sandy.
As for the Mississippi and Rice rivers, they should begin dropping in the coming days.