Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, May 7, 2001

Fire calls, floods impact Howard Lake

By Lynda Jensen

Two fires and flooding from a four-inch deluge April 22 impacted residents in Howard Lake two weekends in a row.

Four inches of rain fell April 21 and 22, causing storm water to overwhelm the city septic system, said Public Works Manager Tom Goepfert.

The city treatment plant ended up processing six and a half times more water than usual, Goepfert said. See a related council story in this issue for details.

The fire department spent Sunday, April 22, pumping water out of Leona Mielke's home on 10th Avenue and Shelly Reddemann's home on Fourth Avenue.

Mielke found almost three feet of water in her basement and Reddemann took in more than a foot, along with three other neighbors on that street, Reddemann said. The motel also experienced water problems.

From there, the department went to the assistance of the city, helping to pump water at the wastewater treatment plant, Goepfert said. This was in addition to the use of a pump borrowed from the City of Cokato.

In fact, the fire department needs to service the pumper that was used, because of "all the stuff floating around" in the pumped mixture, which caused problems for the pumper, Drusch said.

Drusch felt especially bad for Mielke, he said, because it seemed like the more water that was pumped out of her basement, the more came in, he said.

"I've got a mess," commented Mielke of her home.

At noon on Sunday (April 22), not a drop of water could be seen, she said.

That changed when she started to smell sewer, she said. By that time, water was lapping at her bottom step. Before the night was over, it reached the fifth step from her basement floor - more than 28 inches, she said.

The fire department came to her rescue. "They came and pumped me out," she said.

Lost in her basement were: her furnace, a piano, which had to be chopped up and removed, an antique couch, two rockers, a TV, a freezer and other miscellaneous things, she said.

The fire department was pumping until 4 a.m. Sunday night, Drusch said. The department kept its main pumper in the fire hall for emergencies, he said.

Mielke has been forced to stay with her relatives and at a motel for a time, she said.

The next weekend, April 28, the fire department responded to a grass fire that Friday, and the city's compost site ignited Saturday.

The grass fire, at the Albert Ernhart property, was put out in short order.

Council members watch compost burn all night long

Councilor Shelly Reddemann ended up keeping watch all night long over a fire that ignited at the city compost pile.

The fire had suspicious circumstances since some key people were out of town at the time, Reddemann said.

It started between 7 and 8 p.m., April 29, Reddemann said. Mostly brush and leaves were burned, which needed to be burned eventually, but under controlled circumstances, he said.

Reddemann received a call at 8:10 p.m. from Jerome Stoll telling him about the fire, he said.

By that time, there were two options, either call the fire department to have them try to put it out, or get a fire permit in a hurry and stay with the fire, he said.

Reddemann stayed at the site all night until 8 a.m.

Council member John Swanson, who is also a fire department member, brought out a grass rig and stayed with the fire until about 2 or 3 a.m., Reddemann said.

"We were very fortunate," Reddemann said, since the wind has been very high the past week and happened to die down that day.

Smoke was an issue, since it drifted over the Gruenhagen farm, he said. Otherwise, it went alright for being an unplanned burn, Reddemann said.

Waverly is relatively quiet

The Waverly Fire Department continues to have a relatively quiet spring, said Waverly Chief Mark Karels.

In Waverly, there is a burning ban inside the city limits and those who wish to burn in the country must apply for a permit, Karels said.

Several phone calls to residents and Waverly City Council members turned up no complaints about heavy water in basements, although the Crow River is reported to be extremely high, according to Wright County Commissioner Dick Mattson.

The Waverly public works department had no problems to report during the past few weeks, according to Waverly Clerk Deb Ryks.

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