NORTHFIELD, Minn. (WCCO) — The city of Northfield is in a state of emergency Saturday night after some of the highest water levels ever recorded along the Cannon River.
After nearly a week of rain and sandbagging, the community is still waiting for the river to crest as some businesses are forced to close doors.
The Cannon River is rushing so fast it has forced groundwater to come up through tiles in some of the businesses, although thankfully the actual river water has not overflowed into any businesses.
Business owners tell WCCO it is because they have been through this type of thing before and are becoming better at fighting back against Mother Nature.
“People don’t realize how fast it does come up. It’s scary fast,” said Froggy Bottoms River Pub owner Laurie Hoheisel.
Watching and waiting is about all Hoheisel can do.
“The rain started down south and everything south of us comes north on the Cannon, so we always watch the rain there. If it’s raining here it’s not an issue,” she said.
She has been through this before — in 2010 when the river reached historic high levels.
“This is my life, we’re going to protect it,” Hoheisel said.
She had five feet of water in the basement then.
“They call that the hundred year flood. They’re about 93 years off. Seven years later here we are,” she said.
But she was much better armed this time.
“We call this the battleship. Each panel weighs 150 pounds and there’s actually a railing on the other side,” she said.
“We are getting good at it. I hate to even say that because you don’t want to be good at something like this,” said Kurt Larson.
Larson’s printing shop has minimal damage this time around thanks to thousands of sandbags and years of trial and error.
Still, his business also remains closed until the river crests, losing time and money.
“First off I tell them if I cry I’m adding water so we’re not going to do that,” Hoheisel said.
Business owners prepared to fight for what they’ve worked so hard for — including their positive attitudes.
“Stuff like this brings out the best in 99 percent of the people in any community, and the support that you get from your fellow people in the city of Northfield, it’s overwhelming,” Larson said.
Businesses are not sure how much longer they will have to stay closed. It depends on when the river starts to recede again.
The mayor of Northfield said the city has been thinking of possible ways to raise shorter walls along the river, but they are hoping they won’t be seeing this type of water levels again for decades.