WATERVILLE, Minn. (WCCO) – Due to recent flooding caused by this month’s heavy rains, Waterville in southern Minnesota is mostly under water.
“Nobody’s ever seen it [like this], you know, and you can never be prepared for it,” said resident Brian Spatenka.
Since the flooding began, he’s been sleeping just two hours at a time these nights. He’s been running sump pumps and sandbagging around the clock, trying to keep his home on the Cannon River safe from the flood.
“We’ve been trying to save as many homes as we can,” he said. “We saved some, but still lost some in the process.”
He’s in just one of the 460 Waterville homes being threatened by the high waters. The Cannon River runs through town, connecting the two lakes that flank Waterville: Tetonka Lake in the west and Sakatah Lake in the east.
“Gonna take at least month and a half before [the water] goes down, and I can breathe easy,” Spatenka said.
Several homes have already been evacuated. Spatenka says if he leaves, his home will be a total loss.
“Hopefully it’ll recede here soon, so everybody can have peace of mind,” he said.
The town is home to 1,800 people, and the flooding has caused enormous devastation.
Diane Gomberg, a WCCO Weather Watcher, says both Tetonka Lake and Sakatah Lake are at record highs. They’ve only gone down an inch since they peaked over the weekend.
“A tornado will develop, it’ll be there, and it’ll leave,” Gomberg said, “but flooding…it’s just total devastation, because it ruins wood, it ruins your sheet rock, it ruins everything it comes into contact with.”
For residents near the water, like Spatenka, watching the forecast is nerve-wracking.
“I just think it’s going to be devastating if we get more rain,” he said.
Not only are Waterville residents dealing with flooding devastation, there are also problems with the flood waters themselves. There’s so much debris coming downstream in the lakes, officials are worried about contamination and chiggers.
The city is holding a meeting on Thursday at 7 p.m. to discuss how the community is going to battle the flood. The meeting will take place at the Waterville school auditorium.