Freeborn County Residents Fill Sandbags To Keep Homes Dry

March 14, 2019 10:45 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- This week's rapid snow melt has given the region more water than it can handle, and with the ground still frozen, many area residents are seeing that water getting too close to their homes for comfort. 

The rising water prompted Freeborn County officials Thursday to open up the fairgrounds and provide free sand and sandbags to county residents whose homes are in danger of flooding.


"We looked at the situation yesterday and decided it would probably be a good idea, so first thing this morning we had the truckload of sand delivered, had the sandbags in place," Freeborn County Emergency Management Director Rich Hall said. 

Jodie Distad was one of the dozens who took advantage of the free sandbags after she was unable to find anywhere else in town to go. Distad and her family live on a horse farm several miles south of the city.

"We drove all around Albert Lea, we stopped at four stores last night and everybody was sold out of sandbags," she said. "Then this morning I got a message from somebody saying the fairgrounds had them."

The sand pile, like the many snow piles across the county, slowly shrank as the day went on and as nervous homeowners took protecting their properties into their own hands.

While Distad didn't express concern about water getting into her home, she was nervous that she would have to move more of her horses to higher ground. Her family was able to clear some of the nearby ditches to give the water a place to go, but other parts of the property were still seeing water seeping under doors.

"We had two stalls get wet, but out of 27 that's not bad," she said. "We had room to put them so it worked out good."

Despite several dry days in the forecast, Hall said the county isn't in a rush to put the sandbags away.

"We'll leave it out here as long as there's a need," he said.

A number of area municipalities are offering sandbagging supplies:

Freeborn County:

In preparation for potential flooding during the spring thaw, the Office of Emergency Management along with County staff will have sandbags and sand available at no cost to residents that reside within Freeborn County. Sandbags and sand will be available at the Freeborn County Fairgrounds. Residents are required to bring their own shovels, manpower, and transportation for sandbags and are asked to use the Bridge Street entrance to the fairgrounds. Individuals are responsible for appropriate disposal of sandbags and sand after use. 
If you have further questions or are in need of larger quantities (over 100 bags) contact information can be obtained by calling Freeborn County Emergency Management at 507-377-5221 or email

Albert Lea

Residents can fill sandbags at the city garage during regular business hours.

Mason City:

Sandbags are available at the City’s Operations & Maintenance facility grounds at 725 North Massachusetts. Bring a shovel to fill the sandbags. DO NOT USE THE SAND INSIDE THE SHED as it contains chemicals. Use the sand located outside to the east of the sand facility.

Worth County:

Bring a shovel with you to the Worth County Recycle Center East of Kensett. Worth County residents only please. Fertile residents can get theirs at the city garage also.

Mower County:

Residents can fill sandbags at the county public works building on 8th Avenue NE in Austin during normal business hours.


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