Rapidan Dam recap: From 'imminent failure' to Dam Store demolition

The Rapidan Dam in south central Minnesota suffered a partial failure on June 24, 2024, resulting in a house along the Blue Earth River, near the dam, to fall into the river. The Dam Store was then demolished, after it couldn't be saved. Here is a recap of the Rapidan Dam situation. 

Partial failure of Rapidan Dam on June 24

On the evening of Sunday, June 23, the dam was experiencing high flows and additional debris, but was still at adequate capacity. 

Around 1:30 a.m. on June 24, there was water overlapping the dam, and at 3 a.m., notifications were sent to regulatory agencies per the requirements of the dam Emergency Action Plan.

On June 24, there was a partial failure of the west abutment, which caused an Xcel Energy substation to wash away, resulting in power outages. 

The term "imminent threat" was used as outlined in the County’s Emergency Action Plan.

Water peaked on June 24 at 34,800 cubic feet per second and lowered to 33,000 cubic feet per second as of June 25. 

Rapidan Dam house falls into Blue Earth River

Blue Earth County Officials said a section of the white house collapsed into the river just before 10 p.m. on June 25, after it was over the edge of an eroded bluff. 

The soil under the home had been washed away by the heavy flow of the river that overlapped and eventually breached the west side of the dam. 

The homeowners were evacuated before it fell, so no one was injured. 

The owners, the Hruska family, watched their home fall into the Blue Earth River on the night of June 25. 

Erosion causes concern for bridge as erosion worsened June 26

On Wednesday, June 26, officials said there was concern about the Glacier Road Bridge, which runs over the Blue Earth River, south of the dam, due to erosion. 

Blue Earth County officials said on June 26 there was a "dramatic" shift that had the river cutting deeper into the west bank. 

Dam Store demolished

On June 28, Blue Earth County took possession of the Dam Store building near the Rapidan Dam, and demolished it after it couldn't be saved due to erosion from the river. 

The store was owned by the Hruska family, who also owned the home that collapsed into the river earlier in the week. The store was left standing after the house fell, but it was threatened by rapid erosion. A deal was reached with officials and the family, and the store was torn down. 

Before the store was demolished, Blue Earth County officials helped the Hruska family and friends remove the bar, chairs, tables, booths, kitchen appliances, and memorabilia from the store. 

Significant erosion put the Dam Store building at a greater risk of being lost to the river. In an effort to protect other properties downstream and lessen environmental impact, Blue Earth County presented a purchase agreement to the Hruska family, so the building could be removed.

Blue Earth County Public Works, Emergency Management and Sheriff’s Office continue to monitor the Rapidan Dam situation.

The community is now rallying to support the Hurska family.