Fast-rising floodwaters displace Garden City, Minn. residents

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About 15 miles south of Mankato, rising floodwaters have forced the evacuation of more than a dozen residents of Garden City, Minn.

“I’ve never seen that much water and ice with that much force,” said Kay Ashley, a Garden City resident.

Brian Williams, whose home is just feet from the Watonwan River, feels the same.

“We’ve had water in the backyard before, but it’s never flooded to this extreme,” he said.

Authorities say an ice dam let loose up river, sending a surge of water and sheets of thick ice over the riverbanks and into neighborhoods.

“It was flowing right through, there were like, rapids hitting the house,” said Robert Kewatt, another resident.

Flood levels hit more than 5 feet Wednesday, leaving some residents stranded and basements submerged in water.

“There’s about 4 to 5 feet of water in the basement right now, so everything is trashed,” Williams said.

The current from the river was so strong it washed away a city street. Officials say it will likely take months to rebuild.

As the water begins to recede, longtime resident Kay Ashley returned home to assess the damage.

“Everything in our garage looks like a tsunami, like something came in, tipped everything over,” she said. “Our big fridge is tipped over, our air compressor is tipped over.”

Hoping the worst is behind them, the cleanup is about to begin for many.

“Hopefully here, we’re in the clear, but I can’t predict what’s going to come, but it seems like we’re in a good state right now,” said a Sheriff’s Office deputy.

Floodwaters were an issue north of Garden City in St. Peter as well. Officials closed the Highway 99 Minnesota River bridge after an ice jam led to rapidly rising water levels. Authorities are uncertain how long the bridge will be closed.