Herald Journal - Enterprise Dispatch - Delano Herald Journal
Delano officials continue to meet on flood preparedness
March 7, 2011

By Ryan Gueningsman
Managing Editor

DELANO, MN – Delano city officials are meeting on a bi-weekly basis to keep up-to-speed on the forecasted high water for the Crow River this spring.

City Engineer Vince Vander Top of Wenck Associates told the Delano City Council Tuesday night that one would have figured from recent snowfall that the projections would have increased, but said they have remained relatively unchanged.

“Really a limited amount of water has left the system,” Vander Top said, referring to a few warm days in February and also some recent snowfall. “Recent forecasts haven’t changed significantly – for the good or the bad.”

Forecasts issued by the National Weather Service indicate Delano has a strong probability of seeing levels comparable to last year, and possibly slightly higher. The river crested last year March 21 at 20.30 feet, which is the third-highest crest since data has been maintained. The other historical crests were 23.25 feet in 1965, and 20.45 feet in 1969.

Vander Top said the city continues to plan for potential high waters this year, and said at the most recent meeting of city officials, the Salvation Army was present to discuss services it can offer, as well as provide information it is hearing from other communities that may also be affected by flooding this spring. The United States Army Corps of Engineers was also present at the meeting, he added.

“They stressed they’re going to be stretched pretty thin,” Vander Top said.

With it now being March, Vander Top said potential flooding events could take place during the later part of this month and into early April.

As of late last week, the Crow River in Delano was measured at 9.57 feet, which is actually down slightly from several days earlier. The river’s initial flood stage is 16.5 feet.

At the council meeting, council members also reviewed a compilation of bids that have been received by local contractors for things such as washed sand and clay, and equipment and personnel time for things such as hydraulic excavators, dump trucks, front-end loaders, and skid steers.

Quotes were received from 12 contractors. It was noted each bidder will now be issued a standard city contract and then, as equipment or materials are needed, everything will already be in place and the city can proceed by utilizing services of the lowest bidders.

“Whatever is in the best interest of the community in the time of need,” Vander Top said.

The city also is exploring materials and things that can be used year-to-year to help reduce potential costs down the road. It was noted some permanent improvements are also being explored, which would also lead to an eventual cost savings.

Vander Top said the city is also looking at where a temporary levee may be built, and said, right now, he’s comfortable where the city is at as far as its preparations for the potential high water.

Mayor Dale Graunke said the city is fortunate to have some of the engineering staff in place that it does, who have been through flooding events before.

Graunke said some people and organizations have also approached the city about helping fill sandbags or working in another volunteer capacity. He said volunteers will be solicited when needed, and estimated the city is “a few weeks out yet” from that.

City staff attend meeting with Governor Dayton Friday

Several staff members were planning on attending a meeting last Friday in Jordan with Governor Mark Dayton and other senior officials.

Dayton planned to host two public flood preparedness meetings to discuss planning and response coordination in greater Minnesota; the first meeting in Jordan, and the second in Montevideo.

He was expected to be joined by Adjutant General Rick Nash of the Minnesota National Guard, Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman, Department of Public Safety Commissioner Mona Dohman, Kris Eide, Executive Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and other local officials at both locations.

Forecast from downstream

The most recent forecast issued predicts probable river heights based on current weather conditions, snow pack, and expected water in the system. This forecast does not account for additional precipitation or an unusually rapid thaw.

In 2010, the City of Watertown experienced an approximate 15.25-foot flood. Current modeling shows the Crow River at the Mayer station having a 50 percent chance of cresting at approximately 18.5 feet.

It is expected that the City of Watertown would experience an 18-foot flood level, comparable to the flood of record in 1965. The weather service forecast also includes a 30 percent likelihood of an approximate 19-foot flood level in Watertown.

These potential flood levels represent a new flood of record in Watertown. City officials strongly encourage residents and property owners to consider flood insurance if they anticipate water impacts from either the river or localized flooding.

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