Voluntary evacuations as Willow River, Minn. watches dam

Please have a bag packed. We may need to evacuate. We ask that you be prepared to leave with very little notice. That’s the message being distributed on slips of paper by the city council in Willow River, Minnesota, a community of about 400 people along Interstate 35 in Pine County.

Officials from the Army Corp of Engineers were called in to assess the dam, which, as of 5 p.m. Wednesday, was holding and structurally intact.  Water has been rising and flowing over the top of the dam, and an earthen levee to either side of the dam has had water flowing over the top of it.  

As a precaution from the rising water, County Highway 61 was closed through town Wednesday morning. 
The Pine County sheriff’s office has not ordered any evacuations, but a voluntary evacuation advisory was issued to resident sin parts of Willow River and Rutledge.

It is uncertain when the water is expected to crest and start to drop.