MN weather: Sandbagging efforts underway, latest on flooding across Minnesota

Minnesota communities are grappling with the aftermath of heavy rain that has caused flooding and damage in some areas, while others are preparing for possible flooding.

READ MORE: Minnesota weather: Cloudy and wet Friday, heavy rain possible 

Gov. Tim Walz visiting northern Minnesota

Gov. Tim Walz traveled north on Friday after the region received significant rainfall from Tuesday's storm. 

Walz stopped in Biwabik to look at the storm damage and severe flooding in the area. He then went to Cook, about 40 miles north, to see the flood damage in that area. Walz said in Cook, floodwaters measure "several feet," and they're impacting homes and businesses. Meanwhile, in Biwabik, there's a boil water order and business closures in the area. 

"When it comes to Minnesota weather, we never know the hand we are going to be dealt. From last year’s summer drought and forest fires to the major flooding we are dealing with today, what remains consistent is the ability of our communities to come together in times of crisis," said Gov. Walz in a statement. "Here amidst the flooding, I am reminded of the strength and resilience of Minnesotans. Together we will build back, and the state stands ready to support."

The St. Louis County Board approved a disaster declaration on Thursday, which will allow access to federal and state emergency funds. This is the second-largest natural disaster St. Louis County has seen in three decades, Walz said. 

Gov. Walz has activated the State Emergency Operations Center

In a tweet on Friday, Gov. Walz said he has activated the State Emergency Operations Center "to monitor flooding in southern and central Minnesota" ahead of additional expected rainfall. 

"We stand ready to help communities prepare, respond and recover," Walz tweeted. "We will get through this together."

Sandbagging in Waterville, Owatonna

Le Sueur County Emergency Management posted on Facebook asking for volunteers to help fill sandbags in Waterville. Volunteers can visit the city shop at the corner of Hoosac and Reed Streets from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. on Friday.

READ MORE: Minnesota rain totals: Wet Thursday, Friday in southern half of state

Sandbags are available for anyone who needs them at the city garage on the same corner, the county emergency management said. Waterville is located about 17 miles southwest of Faribault, Minnesota. 

Meanwhile, Owatonna residents can pick up sandbanks from the City Street Department to help restrict water from entering homes and businesses through doors, garages, and entryways. 

The City of Owatonna notes that residents who choose to pick up sandbags must dispose of them after use, and they cannot be returned to the city. 

Minnesota state parks, trails affected

Several Minnesota state parks and trails have been affected by the recent heavy rain. The Voyagers Retreat areas and Giants Ridge lost their water source after lines were washed out. Officials said they were working on alternative water sources, but the City of Aurora was sending water trucks as crews worked to restore utilities. 

A popular hiking bridge within the Tettegouche State Park in northeast Minnesota was nearly completely swept away by the rushing Baptism River. A portion of the bridge remains connected to the shoe on its west side, but it is now impassable. 

Gooseberry Falls State Park in northern Minnesota sustained serious flooding after receiving 4–6 inches of rain earlier in the week. The Minnesota DNR said multiple trails and areas in the parks are closed due to safety concerns. 

Fort Snelling State Park will remain closed until flood waters recede and the DNR is able to assess the conditions of facilities.

"The safety of our park visitors and staff is DNR’s number one priority," said Ann Pierce, director of the Minnesota DNR’s Parks and Trails Division said in a statement. "We know Minnesotans value state parks and the recreation opportunities they provide, and we will reopen the park as soon as it’s safe to do so."

The DNR says visitors should check for alerts before going to a Minnesota State Park here

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Flooding in Gooseberry Falls State Park following heavy rain in northern Minnesota. (Credit: Minnesota DNR State Parks and Trails)

From: Supplied

Stillwater Lift Bridge closes 

Crews in Stillwater shut down the historic Lift Bridge on Friday due to flooding concerns.  

Flood preparations are underway along the St. Croix River. The water has already breached the banks, putting parks along the river underwater, and the city is preparing for it to climb even higher.

MnDOT will set up barricades and block access to both ends of the Stillwater Lift Bridge on Friday. Until the bridge reopens, pedestrian and bicycle traffic will no longer be allowed to use the river crossing. Parking will also be restricted in the area around the bridge in downtown Stillwater. 

St. Paul road closures 

The City of St. Paul is planning to close Shepard Road and Warner Road on Sunday ahead of possible flooding from the Mississippi River. 

Starting at 6 p.m. on June 23, approximately 3 miles of roadway along the river will be closed to pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicle traffic between Eagle Parkway and Highway 61. 

The city is keeping several roads and parks closed until the river water recedes to a safe level and everything can be cleared before reopening to the public. 

To find more information on city closings, click here

Roadways closed in southwest Minnesota 

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) closed a section of Interstate 90 in both directions between Adrian and 110th Street in southwest Minnesota on Friday morning due to flooding. The roadway was reopened Friday afternoon, however. 

Meanwhile, US 75 between the Iowa border and I-90 in Luverne is closed due to floodwaters. 

Pictures from the area show water covering the roadway and the fields on either side. MnDOT advises travelers to watch out for water, slow down, and plan their travels ahead of time. 

Other roadways in Minnesota have also been affected by floodwaters. To see a full list of closures, click here

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Flooding on I-90 in Magnolia. (Credit: MnDOT)

From: Supplied

Flash flooding travel tips

MnDOT shared the following travel tips with drivers ahead of potential further impacts and flash flooding from heavy rain:

  • Expect the unexpected – flash floods can occur anytime, anywhere.
  • Do not drive around barricades or into flooded areas. Most flooding deaths occur in vehicles.
  • Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars, causing loss of control and possible stalling. A foot of water will float many vehicles. Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles and pick-ups.
  • When a road is closed it is illegal to travel in that area. Motorists can be fined up to $1,000 and/or 90 days in jail. If travelers need to be rescued from a closed road, other expenses and penalties will also apply.

Southern and central counties are under a flood watch as an additional 2 to 4 inches of rain could fall by Saturday afternoon with some locations seeing 5+ inches. 

To check the latest road conditions, visit MnDOT’s website here