The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

June 17, 2014

Dayton visits International Falls as waters rise

INTERNATIONAL FALLS (AP) — Gov. Mark Dayton traveled to the International Falls area of northern Minnesota on Tuesday to meet with local officials who've been hard at work for days to hold back the slowly rising Rainy River and Rainy Lake.

Volunteers and government crews have placed more than 80,000 sandbags to try to protect homes, cabins, resorts and other buildings in the region along the Minnesota-Ontario border.

Dayton's stops included a fire station west of International Falls in the tiny town of Loman, where the governor had to be ferried by truck across about 200 yards of 2-feet-deep water, International Falls Mayor Bob Anderson said. The fire station, which sits in a low spot, is surrounded by a sandbag dike about 4 feet high.

Dayton planned to travel in the opposite direction Friday to discuss flood damage in Minnesota's far southwestern corner, where roads have been blocked and low-lying farm fields have been covered with standing water from storms since last weekend.

Rainy Lake has risen nearly 2 feet over the last few weeks, while the Rainy River has risen around 10 feet since the start of this month, surpassing a record that had stood since the 1950s. The rise started with the late melting of an unusually heavy winter snowpack, aggravated by all the recent rain.

Anderson said water is still working its way down tributaries into the Rainy River. He said they expect the high water to persist at least three more weeks, depending on how much more rain hits the area.

"I've lived on the river for 25 years, and I've never seen it this high. I've got about 8½ feet of water in my backyard, but my home is still up a couple more feet so I'm still OK," Anderson told Minnesota Public Radio.

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