Owatonna Praised for Flood Mitigation Efforts

Created: 06/19/2014 9:49 PM
By: Steph Crock

(ABC 6 News) -- The city of Owatonna is no stranger to flood waters. All of their parks are currently underwater, and many roads are still blocked off throughout town, but that's a welcomed sight for emergency management leaders in the area, who say this is nothing compared to what they've dealt with in the past.

"We were affected as far as significant flooding in some of our areas, that affected some of our critical infrastructure and some of our roads," said Owatonna Fire Chief and Steele County Emergency Management Director Mike Johnson.

We're told the more than 8 inches of rainfall that poured into Owatonna isn't causing that much destruction, at least, from their standards. "We're not doing a lot of protective measures and a lot of sandbagging because we put some mitigation efforts in place with funding that we got through the state of Minnesota and the Department of Natural Resources and Homeland Security Emergency Management," said Chief Johnson.

After floods like the one back in 2010, preventative efforts have been ongoing. They've moved more than 2 dozen homes along flood plains and created holding ponds. “They held the water or slowed the water down so it didn't end up in the neighborhoods or in peoples basements. We also worked in many areas and did property acquisitions in the flood zone to remove some of the homes out of those areas," said Johnson.

"When local leaders take initiative to solve the problems and, as the chief said, 24/7 in advance of the disaster, it makes a huge difference," said Governor Mark Dayton. The governor was in town to applaud those mitigation efforts. He’s seen Owatonna’s flooding at its worst. "DNR funding after the 2010 flood, we're told, made a very significant difference from 450 homes that were damaged previously to none, even with more rainfall this time," said Governor Dayton.

"We didn't start preparing for this flood when it started raining. We've been doing flood preparations and mitigation efforts every day of the year to prepare our community for this," said Chief Johnson.

Just about all of the parks are currently closed in Owatonna along with several surrounding roads. Emergency management asks you still avoid any of those areas that are marked off, until their state of emergency is lifted.

Photo: ABC 6 News