DELANO, Minn. (KMSP) - After scrambling to recover from late season flooding a couple of years ago, the City of Delano is close to completing a new flood wall to squelch potential flooding in the future. It can be taken down and put back up as needed. The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport has something similar, but for a city with a population of less than 6,000, it’s a big investment into a longtime problem.
Mayor Dale Graunke remembers growing up through the flood of 1965, and he's careful to not be too thankful for a relatively dry spring.
“Everyone always says, ‘Oh we made it through spring we're good to go, but as you remember two years ago, it was in May and June when we started getting all the rain,” he said.
It was one week before July 4, 2014 with 30,000 people in town for the parade, and the city scrambling to control the damage. The rising Crow River destroyed a local coffee shop, which has since been torn down and caused roughly $60,000 in damage.
In recent months, Delano city engineers have been installing a new solution. More than 420 feet of removable flood wall line downtown with posts are attached to footings that are 8 feet deep and set 10 feet apart. Then, 45-pound tongue-and-grove aluminum planks are put in place like water-tight Legos. The whole things takes about three hours to put in place -- a drastic difference compared to the entire week it takes for crews to erect clay levees.
A vast majority of the time, most people won't even notice the changes along the river bank, but city administrators expect this faster, cheaper alternative will prove its worth soon enough.
The total project cost just over $1 million. A DNR grant paid for half, and according to the mayor, made the entire project possible.