Cannon Falls police chief: Stay away from the riversby Tim Nelson, Minnesota Public Radio
CANNON FALLS, Minn. — Cleanup is underway across southeastern Minnesota Friday morning after heavy rains and damaging winds hit the area.
The Cannon Falls area was especially hard hit. Officials say the Cannon River rose 28 inches early Thursday and that the Little Cannon River shot up 39 inches after about 8 inches of rain fell on Thursday.
Police Chief Jeff McCormick says Cannon River levels began decreasing early Friday morning, but even though the river is receding, it remains extremely dangerous and should be avoided.
"Don't go into the water. Even though it may look calm on the surface , it is moving very, very swiftly," he said. If anyone were to fall in the river, "they would be swept away without a second chance to try to grab something."
Roads were reported flooded in Nerstrand and Stanton, and the Minnesota Department of Transportation has closed Highway 20 in Cannon Falls from Mill Street to River Road because of flooding. This morning, a carp could be seen swimming on a flooded roadway.
Residents got plenty of warning from authorities that trouble could be on the way. Unlike the 2010 floods, which caught many residents by surprise, one homeowner reported that firefighters were knocking on her door at 3 a.m. Friday, advising her that high water was possible.
One home in town was flooded. At least a dozen others near the river have been sandbagged and residents are eyeing the water level warily.
Police report that the Byllesby dam on the Cannon River is structurally sound, but its floodgates may have to be opened a little if the water level in the lake behind gets too high. Bridges in the area are also holding up fine.
The owner of a bike and canoe rental business in Cannon Falls said that his shop floor was about 2 feet underwater at the height of the flooding late Thursday. He also said that about 30 of his canoes floated away in the floodwaters, and he's waiting for the water to recede so he can track them down and bring them back.
Cannon Falls Police Chief and Emergency Management Director Jeff McCormick says while the river levels have been going down now for several hours he remains concerned about flooding because more rain is in the forecast.
"Right now what we're seeing is the water level dropping," he said. "We think that is was probably about sunrise when it hit its crest. Since then it's dropped about 12 to 18 inches. We're continuing to monitor the water levels and you know with the weather forecast of rain we're obviously concerned of potential for a second crest."
Elsewhere, Rochester Public Utilities reports power is still out in some areas of the city in outages that started late last evening. A storm knocked down power lines, blew over tractor trailers. Observers in Dodge Center reported a 55 mph winds and trees were reported down in Northfield.
Authorities in Goodhue County say there is some flooding along the Cannon River, and a storm report to the National Weather Service indicated there were some Cannon Falls homes being evacuated because of a threat of high water there.
The National Weather service says more storms may be in the forecast for the area this weekend, with a 60 percent chance of thunderstorms on Saturday.
(MPR reporter Mark Zdechlik contributed to this report.)
The map below shows Cannon Falls and the Byllesby Dam.