MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — Gov. Mark Dayton got a firsthand look Friday at southwestern Minnesota communities that have been hit by flooding.

Flying in, Dayton said he saw a lot of standing water on fields that were partially or even completely underwater.

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“It’s a catastrophe,” Dayton told reporters. “And we just pray for more dry sunny weather like this to bring the water levels down.”

Dayton was joined by U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, Sen. Tina Smith, state Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson and state Emergency Management Director Joe Kelly.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture said farmers in areas covered by the state of emergency can apply through their existing lenders for zero-interest loans from the Minnesota Rural Finance Authority for help in covering cleanup, repair and replacement costs not covered by insurance.

(credit: CBS)

The Cottonwood River in New Ulm is still in a major flood stage. Adams Park is expected to be under water for days to come.

“This is not typical. This is a lot more water than they’ve had in many years,” said New Ulm resident Tammy Steffl.

It was an observation on-lookers could all agree on. Any hope that the rising Cottonwood River would cause only minor flooding was swept away within a matter of hours.

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“I’ve never seen that much water go across the road like it is now,” said Alan Portner from nearby Essig.

Rain further up river is to blame. Towns like Springfield were hit by major flooding. When that happens, New Ulm often sees similar results two or three days later.

“1965 was is the highest. It got over 20.86 feet,” said Dave Borchert, Emergency Management Director. “We’re not that far off, a little over a foot from that.”

And it is not Adams Park that Borchert is worried about. He has eyes on property on the other side of Cottonwood Road.

“We get real concerned with the homes over there. Certain thresholds we get concerned with. They are protected to over 22 feet,” Borchert said.

The good news is the Cottonwood his crested, and is slowly but surely receding.

This is the second-highest crest on record in the city of New Ulm.

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(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

John Lauritsen