Posted at: 03/15/2013 6:37 PM
By: John Doetkott
Flooding Concerns Growing, But Not Immediate
(ABC 6 NEWS) -- For weeks and even months, everyone from farmers to snow plow drivers have been concerned with Minnesota’s persistent drought, but with Friday’s rains, the concern now changes to flooding.
Many Austin residents still remember the devastating flood of 2004 which destroyed numerous businesses and forced some to flee their homes.
“The apartments across the river here, they were walking out with their kids and stuff like that, carrying them over their shoulders, walking through basically chest-high water,” said Chad Kuehn.
Kuehn Motors was also flooded that year, but thanks to volunteers who helped sandbag, they were able to escape without significant damage.
“We brought tires down from inside the shop and put our desks up on tires,” Kuehn said. “So we were very fortunate with the help of everybody."
A new flood wall now protects the dealership, one of the many flood mitigation projects developed by the city.
And because experts said it's impossible to stop flooding altogether, the primary focus is on reducing the damage as much as possible.
“If we can reduce it by 20 percent it will bring us down to the 1970 level,” said Bev Nordby with the Mower County Soil and Water Conservation District. “And that's kind of what we're trying to achieve. But we'll never ever stop flooding in Austin just because of how it's laid out."
Experts said the geography of Mower County only compounds the problem.
“It's a real challenge in this area to look at flooding because of our topography,” Nordby said. “We have real long slopes and there is no storage area."
With wetland restoration and other flood mitigation projects already underway, officials said they are making progress, but still acknowledge the situation in Austin will always have its challenges.
“Everybody has a little bit of flooding going on, but it just seems that in Austin it’s a little bit more dramatic than the others,” Nordby said.
Experts say there is no immediate threat of flooding, but both city and county officials are monitoring water levels closely.