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Mpls. Public Works Dept. Braces For Spring Flooding

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(credit: CBS) Rachel Slavik
Rachel Slavik joined the WCCO team in October of 2010 and is thrill...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As we move towards spring, the upcoming melt poses a flooding risk where you wouldn’t expect it.

Alleys and intersections in Minneapolis could be the trouble spots if there’s a rapid warm up.

Fifty-seven inches of snow and ice cover most of the city’s 50,000 storm drains, leaving nowhere for the water to go.

Mike Kennedy, director of transportation and maintenance repair for Minneapolis Public Works, says localized flooding is possible if the melt happens too fast.

The flooding wouldn’t be caused by overflowing lakes or rivers, but rather from frozen storm drains buried under several inches of snow and ice.

“One of these days it’s going to get warm, and things could happen fast,” Kennedy said.

Intersections and alleys can overflow within minutes, causing travel issues and potential property damage.

“One of the big problems we have are in our alleys, too,” he said. “And we want to keep any flooding from going up into garages and things like that.”

To stay ahead of the spring-time melt, city crews fire up front-end loaders with snow blowers attached. Each day, they’ll clear winter away from corners and curbs. But some catch basins will go untouched.

“To try to get out there and clean all 50,000 of them would be just kind of a monumental task,” he said.

And with warmer weather and sunshine in the near future, crews are expecting busy days ahead.

“We’ll just have to kind of wait and see, do what we can to start and react accordingly,” he said.

Kennedy says in some cases, the snow and ice may have even frozen pipes and gutters underneath the street, which will take longer for crews to clear out. The city is asking everyone to be patient.

The employees who clear the storm drains are also responsible for patching potholes.

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