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Waters rising around Goodhue County

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Rising water along the Mississippi River brought flooding and multiple road closures to Red Wing on Friday as the state reacts to days of heavy rainfall.

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Encroaching water also prompted the city to close Colvill Park beginning Sunday, meaning the cancellation of the Lions Club’s annual Ribs & Bibs fundraiser.

“The speed of this coming up is kind of unprecedented,” Lions Club member Paul Drotos said Friday while examining flooding at the park and along Levee Road. He said it is unusual to have to plan for flooding this late in the summer.

Drotos, who also is the environmental officer for the city of Red Wing, said there was an estimated 1.8 billion gallons of water going by every hour Thursday on the Mississippi River. If that much water was put into pop cans, he said there would be enough to circle the equator 58 times or stretch to the moon six times.

River readings reached 13 feet Friday at Colvill Park as water began coming onto the shore, according to a city of Red Wing news release. The park will remain open through today and close tomorrow until the river level drops.

Lion President Dave Watson said in a statement that he was disappointed to cancel the event and thanked advertisers, entertainers, club members and pre-sale ticket buyers for their support. The money from ticket sales will be refunded, he said.

Red Wing Public Works and Institution/Community Work Crew members spent the morning Friday preparing the park to close, including placing concrete parking bumpers at Universal Playground.

The concrete was to keep silt from getting under the playground’s matting and causing additional damage, said Dan Anderson, operations foreman for buildings and grounds.

Although Drotos said the risk to life and property is minimal at this point, the biggest concern for Lake Pepin is sediment pollution as strong currents erode shorelines to the north and carry the material downstream. Most of that sediment comes from the Minnesota River Valley, he said.

State of emergency

Goodhue County was one of 35 Minnesota Counties included in an emergency declaration Thursday by Gov. Mark Dayton in response to flooding around the state. The order opens state resources and engages agencies in response efforts.

The Mississippi River reached 11.48 feet as of 9 a.m. Friday, and the National Weather Service expects the river to reach 14.3 feet by the end of next week.

The city of Cannon Falls announced Friday morning on Facebook that the water level of the Cannon River had crested, but it is anticipated to remain high for the next few days as it slowly returns to normal.

Crews started sandbagging around Cannon Falls throughout the day Thursday, Goodhue County Emergency Management Director Diane Richter-Biwer said.

The Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office issued an advisory for boaters to use caution on the Mississippi River due to strong currents. A no-wake restriction also went into effect on Lake Byllesby.

Updates on road closures can be found on the city’s website at www.red-wing.org.

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Michael Brun
Michael Brun is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program. He has worked for the Republican Eagle since March 2013, covering county government, health and local events. 
(651) 301-7875
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