Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By C.M. Swanson
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

FIGHTING FLOODWATERS

 

C.M. Swanson

Sandbags are stacked Tuesday at Moose Lake Brewing Company as Lakeshore Drive disappears under water. A call for help at flood sights in the area went out via Facebook, the city website and by word of mouth, spurring a nearly immediate, heart-warming response.

Though Tuesday afternoon provided clear skies and welcome sunshine, it did not stop the threat of rising rivers and lakes. Storms throughout the regions Sunday and Monday filled water sources to overflowing, causing flash floods across the region.

"We've received reports varying from five to seven inches of rain in the last 16 hours," said Moose Lake Police Chief Bryce Bogenholm in a Tuesday morning interview. "The water is definitely rising in the lakes and rivers. The river in Barnum has been going up six inches every hour. It's pretty much up to the Highway 61 bridge. All that water is coming our way. We are anticipating the lake is probably going to rise another two or three feet."

Bogenholm went on to say a general rule of thumb is for every inch of rain, the river goes up a foot.

"During the last flood the major damage occurred because the lift station pumps failed," said Bogenholm, "so right now they are making a sandbag berm around the lift pumps just to protect them."

The pumps failed during the flood of 2012, causing sewer and septic back-ups, filling area basements.

"Our pumps were rebuilt after the last flood so they are newer pumps," said Bogenholm. "They are built to run continuously so there haven't been any issues with them failing. Our concern is water going into the building, short circuiting the electrical components. That's why they are sandbagging around it."

Several members of the Moose Lake Fire Department gathered at the old train depot to oversee the filling of sandbags.

"We're preparing to sandbag the lift station so it doesn't flood again like it did in 2012," said Fire Chief Jim Michalski late Tuesday morning. "The last I heard, the water is still rising in Barnum at an inch an hour. It takes about a day for it to get here.

Sargent Whited from Willow River Correctional Facility brought a team from the Challenge Incarceration Program to help fill sandbags near the lift station.

"We go out into the communities and work for non-profit city or state agencies around the area and help them with whatever they need," said Whited. "It's getting these guys involved in programs in a positive way. It's a way for them to give back to communities."

Having learned a great deal from the flood of 2012, crisis management teams went into action Tuesday morning. Roads were blocked due to flood damage. Moose Lake Campground and Moose Lake Park were closed. Many RVs were moved to higher ground. No activity was allowed on the lake. Mayor Ted Shaw visited homes on Moosehead Lake to let them know the lake will continue to rise. He visited the campgrounds and other flood-damaged areas.

At the campground, Monticello resident Sherri Hackenmueller did her best to clean up around her RV while she kept an eye on rising waters. Hackenmueller is a person who lives by the adage, "Every cloud has a silver lining."

"We'll see what the day brings," said Hackenmueller. "We chained everything around the camper together so if it floats away, at least it will float away together so it will be easier to find."

Senator Tony Lourey sent out a press release Tuesday urging residents affected by the storm to contact The Minnesota Department of Commerce's Consumer Services Center (CSC) with questions, concerns, or complaints. The CSC can be reached by phone at (651) 539-1600 or (800) 657-3602 (Greater Minnesota) or by email at consumer.protection@state.mn.us

Sen. Lourey also offered his own contact information: (651) 296-0293 or email sen.tony.lourey@senate.mn.

Note: According to the Moose Lake Police Department, Moosehead Lake was down by four inches by the morning of Thursday, July 14.

 

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