Minnesota flooding updates for Thursday, April 7

Posted at 5:25 PM on April 7, 2011 by Michael Olson, Paul Tosto and MPR News Staff (2 Comments)

AT A GLANCE: Better weekend flood outlook for Fargo-Moorhead... Stillwater Lift Bridge closing Friday morning... Flood related death in Minnesota.

5:25 PM: Floods of '11 under control?

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"Sunshine, low humidity, and no rain or snow. That's just what the weather doctor ordered for swollen rivers in southern Minnesota," MPR's Paul Huttner writes in his afternoon post.

The latest crest forecast for the Mississippi River at St. Paul has been adjusted slightly downward, from 19.2 feet to 18.8 feet next Monday, he says.

"Barring a major dike failure or some other unknown event, most communties may be able to handle these flood levels without major incident. Knock on wood... but the Floods of 2011 seem to be passing without major problems."

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4:25 PM: Moorhead urgently seeks sandbaggers

The city of Moorhead late this afternoon put out an urgent call for volunteers tonight and tomorrow for a final push to get homes sandbagged.

"Volunteers are asked to report to the Volunteer Center at MSU Moorhead (17th Street and 6th Avenue South) to be dispatched to construct sandbag dikes at various locations throughout the city."

4:02 PM: The Red River flood: Quentin's legacy

We reported a brief earlier today about a man who died sandbagging the Red River north of Moorhead.

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MPR News blogger Bob Collins is on the scene and posted this report.

Quentin Goehring of Oakport Township spent all day yesterday sandbagging against a rising Red River. That was a lot to ask of a 75-year-old man. It was too much to ask, as it turned out.

Around 7 last evening, he had a heart attack and died.

Today, the call went out for volunteers to help protect the home where he lived and dozens answered the call. That's his grandson on the far left of the picture.

"A lot of people were complaining yesterday about having to be out sandbagging," one volunteer told me. "We're not complaining now."

I'll have more on this later.

3:31 PM: Water climbs on Grand Forks flood marker

The U.S. Geological Survey sent out its latest web cam photo of the Red River flood obelisk at Grand Forks.

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Here's what it looks like on drier days
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(Justin Lunski via city-data.com)

Current forecasts put the riverat about 51 feet next week, roughly around the second band from the top. Flood defenses are in place for 60 feet, officials say.

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2:54 PM: Second crest forecast trimmed for Minnesota River

The second crests of the Minnesota River are currently expected to be slightly lower and earlier than the original predictions. Montevideo and New Ulm will be cresting today, state homeland security officials said in their afternoon report.

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The encouraging news continues, too, for communities west of the Twin Cities on the Crow River. The Crow will be cresting Friday at 15.3 feet at Mayer; Saturday at 19 feet at Delano and Saturday at 14.2 feet at Rockford.

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2:05 PM: Grand Forks shutting Red River bridge Friday

With the Red River rising, Grand Forks and East Grand Forks will close the Point Bridge on Minnesota Ave. Friday by 10 a.m.

"The National Weather Service projects the Red River in Grand Forks may reach a level of approximately 51 feet by April 12 or 13, which would make the approach to the bridge impassable," the cities said.

Grand Forks has flood defenses in place up to 60 feet.

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1:05 PM: Fargo crest range trimmed to 40 feet

Good news for Fargo flood watchers: The latest National Weather Service forecast is narrowing the crest range expected for the Red River in Fargo-Moorhead. On Wednesday, the NWS was still talking about a crest range of 39 to 41 feet by Sunday or Monday. Today, the service reduced that to a range of 39 to 40 feet.

"If no significant precipitation occurs through this weekend, then the river is most likely to rise to around 39.5 feet -- that includes precipitation forecast through Sunday evening," the weather service said.

Flood defenses in the area are built up to 43-44 feet.

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12:50 PM: Dikes going up in Drayton, Oslo

Two northern Red River Valley communities -- Drayton, N.D. and Oslo, Minn., are building and raising dikes in preparation for major flooding in the next week or so, the Grand Forks Herald reports.

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11:50 AM: Fargo-Moorhead bridge closing as Red rises

WDAY reports officials will close down the 52nd Avenue South bridge over the Red River at noon today and that three other bridges are expected to close in the next 24 hours. They are the 40th Avenue South bridge over Drain 27 near the Timberline neighborhood; 25th Street South bridge over Rose Coulee, south of Centennial School; 52nd Avenue South bridge over Drain 27.

11:31 AM: Flood related death in Minnesota

Fargo Forum reports: A 73-year-old resident of Oakport Township died Wednesday night after sandbagging his family home, prompting community leaders to put out a plea for volunteers today.

Greg Anderson, flood project coordinator for Oakport, sent an email to residents today asking to help the Quentin Goehring family.

The family was filling and placing sandbags to protect their homes on 70th Avenue west of Broadway Wednesday evening.

A death notice says Goehring died Wednesday night at Sanford Health in Fargo.

Today, family friends are looking for volunteers to complete the flood preparations.

The Sheriff's Department Volunteer Center is coordinating volunteers. To volunteer, call (701) 371-2047. Volunteers are asked to bring rubber boots, gloves, shovels and water.

11:01 AM: Fargo says sandbagging complete

Fargo officials a few minutes ago announced the the volunteer effort for sandbag placement has worked well enough that the city is suspending those operations; sandbagging will be complete by 2pm

8:00 AM: Red River crest expected Sunday and Monday

Property owners, volunteers and government workers are keeping a steady pace along the Red River as they made final preparations for the river's crest late this weekend. Here is an exceptional video put together by a Fargo resident, Lee Hoedl.

The Red is expected to crest between 39 and 40 feet at Fargo-Moorhead Sunday and Monday. At 6:00 this morning the river was approaching 35 feet. The NDSU extension service provides a series of steps to reduce flood and water damage.

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Time-lapsed flood levels and predictions

Sideshow of Red River flood forecasts and water levels from March 22 through today.

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A state of emergency

Forty-six Minnesota counties expecting near-record flooding are now under a state of emergency. Governor Mark Dayton issued the declaration Wednesday, allowing National Guard troops to be deployed in the affected areas, and local officials to request other state aid.

Wade Setter is Deputy Director of Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management. He told MPR News the order also lays the groundwork for communities to have damage and flood fighting expenses reimbursed. "We'll evaluate the counties affected, we'll ask for their damages, and we'll make a determination over the next couple of weeks whether we qualify for federal reimbursement," Setter said. "And if it's appropriate, we'll recommend to Governor Dayton to request a presidential disaster declaration."

The counties in the emergency order are along the Red, Crow, Minnesota, and Mississippi Rivers.

North Dakota's Governor is also pushing White House for disaster declaration.

Stillwater bridge to close at 9:00 Friday morning

Stillwater police are patrolling levees along the St. Croix to keep an eye on the water as the river rises for a second time this spring. Forecasts indicate that this crest will be higher than the first.

Matt Thueson shared this photo of the newly-reinforced temporary levee, Lowell Park, and lift bridge.

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The Minnesota Department of Transportation says it will close the Stillwater Lift Bridge Friday at 9:00 a.m. Friday. The closure comes in advance of the National Weather Service's predicted second crest of the St. Croix River at about 688 feet on Tuesday. MPR's John Wanamaker reports "The city is preparing by fortifying existing levees, and will call in a contractor to build a more comprehensive temporary levee if waters rise higher than predicted.


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