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Dayton Declares State Of Emergency Amid Flooding

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Gallery: June Flooding In Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — Torrential rain caused flash flooding in the Twin Cities area on Thursday, as another round of storms buffeted Minnesota during a particularly wet week for the state.

Gov. Mark Dayton issued an emergency declaration Thursday and sent the National Guard to the International Falls area to aid flood-fighting efforts. Although forecasters warned of further thunderstorms later Thursday for southern Minnesota, they said that should clear the way for sunshine on Friday and a chance to dry out.

Dayton canceled plans to visit a groundbreaking in Marshall Thursday and instead headed to Mankato and Owatonna to meet with local officials and to assess flood damage.

“This is a very, very serious situation,” the governor said.

In Mankato, it’s estimated that 1,000 homes sustained damage due to flooding. Also, there are problems with the storm sewer system not accepting runoff, and farmers are suffering the loss of submerged corn crops.

County officials there are asking residents to report all damage. Those reports will help the governor’s office know what to request from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

“I hope it draws enough attention that FEMA does come in…and we get some of that federal funding,” said Brian Fowler, whose friend’s home in Mankato sustained damage.

Dayton plans to join Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and U.S. Rep. Tim Walz on Friday in assessing damage in southern Minnesota.

Day Of Rain

The National Weather Service issued multiple flash flood warnings as 2 to 5 inches of rain fell on the metro area, with more waves of heavy precipitation forecast. In Minneapolis, the already swollen Minnehaha Creek rose nearly a foot overnight and overflowed its banks in several places. It also reached the highest levels ever recorded.

WCCO meteorologist Lauren Casey said that Thursday was the wettest June day in the Twin Cities on record, with just over four inches of rainfall. That makes it the 8th wettest day in the metro ever.

In western Minnesota, the Swift County sheriff’s office received multiple reports of funnel clouds and tornado touchdowns near Benson late Thursday afternoon, but the only damage reported was branches on the ground and some siding ripped off a building.

A lightning strike apparently hit gas meters and started fires that damaged three homes in the suburb of Lakeville, Fire Chief Mike Meyer said.

The storms were just the latest to drench Minnesota communities since last weekend, causing lakes and streams to rise from the far southwest corner of the state up to the Canadian border.

Street flooding was common in the Twin Cities area. At one point early Thursday there was about a foot of water over Minnesota Highway 77 near the Mall of America in Bloomington.

South of the metro area, U.S. Highway 169 was submerged in the Belle Plaine area and between St. Peter and Le Sueur, on the way to Mankato, which was hit hard Wednesday. A 20-mile stretch of the highway was closed as crews worked to clear off water and stabilize sections of roadway near landslides.

The governor’s state-of-emergency declaration for 35 counties makes a wide range of state resources available to affected communities and gets state agencies more involved in the response. He also directed the Minnesota National Guard to send 100 soldiers to Koochiching County in the far north to help in the fight against rising waters on the Rainy River and Rainy Lake.

The Department of Public Safety on Thursday fully activated its State Emergency Operations Center, which it partially activated earlier this week.

“We’re ramping up our efforts to help communities across the state that are dealing with storm damage and high water due to the recent heavy rains,” said Kris Eide, the state’s emergency management director.

On the bright side, the rainfall has extinguished the last remaining patch of drought in Minnesota. Thursday’s weekly update from the U.S. Drought Monitor showed the state completely free of drought for the first time in nearly two years.

The Drought Monitor map had been showing a slowly shrinking area of drought and abnormally dry conditions in the state’s southwestern corner for the last several weeks. That included the Luverne area, which was drenched over the weekend and again Monday. Luverne has now received nearly 13 inches of rain since June 1, said Pete Boulay, a climatologist with the Department of Natural Resources.

Weather watchers are keeping an eye out to see if any Minnesota community breaks the statewide rainfall record for June, which was 15.63 inches in the southern Minnesota town of Mapleton in 2010, Boulay said.

Road Closures

A number of streets were closed in Minneapolis. The list as of 2 p.m. Thursday included:

  • Cedar Avenue at Minnehaha Parkway.
  • Most of Minnehaha Parkway from Cedar Avenue to Lyndale Avenue.
  • Dean Parkway at West Lake Street.

 

The city of St. Paul reported that Water Street/Lilydale Road closed Thursday from Highway 13 to Plato Boulevard. More closures of St. Paul streets are expected for Friday. A list of those are:

  • Jackson Street, from Kellogg Boulevard to Shepard Road.
  • Sibley Street, from Kellogg Boulevard to Shepard Road.
  • 4th Street, from Willius to Commercial Street.

 

Several stretches of roadway were also closed in south central Minnesota. As of 3:30 p.m., MnDOT said that the roads closed include:

  • Highway 19 west of Gaylord.
  • Highway 19 in Henderson to Highway 169.
  • Highway 93 in Henderson to Highway 169.

 
Highways with restrictions in south central Minnesota include:

  • Highway 22 from Mankato to St. Peter.
  • Highway 22 in Gaylord.

 
Flooded roads are also a problem in the southwest part of the state. Here are the roads closed in southwestern Minnesota as of 4:35 p.m.:

  • Northbound Highway 169 from Highway 19 south of Belle Plaine to Highway 41
  • Southbound Highway 169 from Highway 19 to County Road 3/Meridian Avenue
  • Highway 212 eastbound at McLeod County.

 
Highways with restrictions in southwestern Minnesota include:

  • Highway 68 in Morgan.
  • Highway 67 between Granite Falls and Echo.
  • Highway 212 at Boone Road, near Plato.

 

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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