Cities double down on flood prevention amid big melt

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Warm, wet weather combined with melting snow and blocked storm drains has led to high water on some residential streets.

Since Monday morning, the city of Richfield has had several crews out cleaning storm drains.

“This is the second time in 20 years that we’ve done this at this scale,” said Butch Lupkes, Superintendent of Richfield Public Works.

First, they find the storm drains using maps, metal detectors and heavy machinery. Sometimes it takes a few scoops just to get in the vicinity.

“If we don’t get them open, the water’s going to pool on the roads and into people’s driveways, garages and everything else,” he said.

Cities across the state are scrambling to keep up with the rapid melting, as the frozen ground makes conditions more difficult and prone to flooding.

"We’re just making sure everything is open and getting to the ponds to the overflows and downstream," said Selmer Olson of Chaska Public Works.

The City of Chaska sits right next to the Minnesota River and they keep constant watch on river levels. They also have a levee system and a 24/7 on call system for public works crews, just in case.

"We definitely have our eye on what could be coming and preparing for the models and predictions of what we could see," said Kevin Wright, the Chaska communications manager.

In Shakopee, tge northbound lane of County Road 69 was closed Wednesday due to flooding as county maintenance crews worked to clear water that was overwhelming storm drains.

Residents are encouraged to clear their neighborhood storm drains of snow and ice so the rain and snowmelt can drain off of the roads.

Due to the forecasted rain, there is also a risk of ice jams forming on Minnehaha Creek. MCWD is coordinating with the cities of Minnetonka, Hopkins, St. Louis Park, Edina and Minneapolis, and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board to monitor for ice jams and to remove them as needed.