Spring flooding, closed roads taking a toll on Henderson businesses

The flood wall has gone up in Henderson for the second time this spring. The city has been effectively closed off from three major highways for the past month and economically it’s starting to take its toll.

“Yep, we are living on Henderson Island,” said Mary Menne, an active community member and the wife of the Henderson mayor.

The wall that is keeping the floodwater out has nearly trapped an entire city from within.

“We’ve never had it to this duration,” said Menne. “I mean normally we’re strong people, we’re pretty resilient, very patient people in Henderson. But, this is a month ago today, this was March 19 that the gates went up and the roads closed.”

The rising Minnesota River has crested once and after this week’s rains will crest again forcing the closure of Highway 93 leading to Le Sueur. On the west side of town, the Rush River is overrunning Highway 19. It is closed along with Highway 6 to the north.

A Minnesota Department of Transportation study in 2017 showed Henderson loses $87,000 a day when all three roads close. After 32 days, the toll is now more than $2.7 million dollars, leaving a huge impact on the local businesses.

“Our whole community needs these businesses,” said Menne. “If one goes down, it’s a domino effect for the rest of us. It’s important for everybody that the businesses are successful and that these roads open up.”

Downtown is a ghost town.

“There’s no semis coming through, there’s not a ton of traffic and that’s unfortunate, but it’s a really good indication of how bad it is that the cars aren’t even coming through anymore,” she said.  

There are detours to reach Henderson and the city hopes holiday travelers will use them.

“Please help,” said Menne. “Please come patronize our businesses. The roads are closed but our businesses are open. We want as much business as possible, this would be a great weekend to take the detours and come into town because I assure you, you won’t be disappointed. The hospitality here is amazing.”

The Minnesota River is expected to crest again early next week. Even after it starts to recede, it could still be a couple of weeks before Highway 93 and 19 can reopen.