Faribault Businesses Bracing To Contain Major Floodwaters

FARIBAULT, Minn. (WCCO) — A night of storms is causing flash flooding across Minnesota, especially in the southern part of the state.

Flooded fields and roads were visible from Sky 4 in Waseca after around 13 inches of rain fell on the area.

In Faribault, the community is working to save two iconic businesses from two rising rivers — the Straight River and the Canon River. It’s the third time in six years that the two business have had major problems with flooding.

Truckload after truckload of clay soil is rolling in to the Cheese Caves at Faribault. Heavy rains to the south have pushed the Straight River to the brink, and it’s still rising.

“That’s why we’re putting up the secondary perimeter, of hauling in all the gravel, just to make sure that it’s protected,” Malinda Welch of the Faribault Cheese Caves said.

The plant sits on the river’s edge, so flood walls were reinforced with sandbags to protect the facility and its dozen caves essential for aging cheese.

“It looks like it’s going to [hold], it’s predicted that it’s going to [hold], but that is the Straight River so everything flows north,” Welch said. “So it’s really what we need to keep an eye on — what happens down south.”

A few blocks north, sits the iconic Faribault Woolen Mill where dozens of workers and volunteers filled bags with 30 tons of sand.

“We’re set up in case there’s a problem,” Paul Mooty of the Faribault Woolen Mill said.

The problem is the mill sits where the two rivers come together, and if the Straight keeps rising there’s nowhere for the Canon to go.

Mooty is banking on sandbags and pumps to keep it out of the treasured plant.

“It’s watch and wait right now,” he said. “We’ve done everything we can, and we’re going to have guys stay here overnight to monitor everything, and if we need to fire up gas pumps or additional stuff, we’ll be here.”

The city council declared a local state of emergency Thursday to speed the acquisition of materials needed to fight the flood. Things are holding so far, but residents are just hoping more rain doesn’t make matters worse.

More from Bill Hudson
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