By Ryan Gueningsman
DELANO, MN The South Fork of the Crow River that passes through Delano officially crested at 21.02 feet Tuesday morning, in what has proven to be the second-highest level since the devastating 1965 flood.
Following the crest, the river has begun to decrease, showing a level of 19 feet as of press time. The 1965 crest of 23.2 feet is the highest recorded crest; the river rose to 20.45 feet in 1969.
Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton conducted a meeting with local and regional emergency management personnel at the Delano City Hall Tuesday morning and received updates on how high water is impacting the region.
The Delano City Council also discussed the river level and efforts to keep the water at bay during a regularly scheduled work session Tuesday night.
“From a flood perspective, the downtown is holding up very well,” Delano City Administrator Phil Kern said.
As of press time, the Bridge Avenue bridge remained closed due to safety concerns.
“Even as the high waters begin to subside, crews plan to continue this closure until a complete inspection of the bridge can be done,” according to the City of Delano. “After this inspection the bridge will be re-opened.”
The city’s public works crews continue to monitor the river and keep pumping stations operating.
Crews also continue to monitor the levee on South River Street by St. Peter Avenue and Second Street, according to the city. Crews have seen seepage along the levy and have placed two pumps in the area to control the water.
If needed, crews will place an additional pump in the area.
A visit from Dayton
Tuesday’s visit from Dayton provided the governor the opportunity to hear firsthand from local and regional emergency management personnel how the high water has been impacting local communities.
Kern told the governor Delano has constructed temporary levees and has pumped a lot of water, and he reviewed the city’s flood infrastructure, which largely dates back to 1969.
He said Delano has several private homeowners who have suffered property damage, and that the Three Crows Café and Coffee House on River Street gave up the building to the river.
The biggest concern Kern shared with the governor was a reported upcoming weather pattern and the fact this is the third time in five years the city has had to go through this level of effort.
Kern said Delano has spent about 10 percent of its annual budget in about five days holding back this water, much of which is coming toward the city from the greater watershed area.
“I think we’re in better shape today than we had been in the past,” Kern said.
Representatives from the communities of Watertown, Mayer, and Rockford, in addition to Carver County, also spoke with the governor and shared concerns with him.
The governor offered his personal phone number to those present, encouraging them to call in the event things aren’t being addressed in their communities. Dayton also said a special session could be called, if warranted, to address statewide concerns stemming from the high water.
“When you get disasters like this, we’re not Democrats or Republicans we’re all Minnesotans,” he said.
In a media briefing after the meeting, Dayton was asked about covering the gaps between federal and state emergency funds to assist in rebuilding and recovery efforts for communities impacted by high water.
Dayton said during the last session, the Minnesota Legislature passed a state emergency assistance program that is modeled after the federal program. He said it will also assist communities that do not meet the federal threshold, but have suffered extensive damage.
“The various communities and counties have to tally up the extent of their damage,” Dayton said. “That has to wait, in most cases, until the flood waters have receded so they know the extent of that damage.”
Dayton believes Minnesota will qualify for federal disaster aid, and said the state program will fill in the rest. The state program presently has $3 million appropriated for the fund. Dayton said he wouldn’t be surprised if that amount is exhausted, and he said officials also may find areas those dollars won’t cover.
In the last 20 years, Dayton said he has experienced a lot of Minnesota’s natural disasters personally, and said he has seen a lot of improvements made in mitigation efforts.
“Even from four years ago, cities have put in holding ponds that have made a significant difference,” Dayton said.
While conducting visits to communities across the state, Dayton said it is very hard to see the pain and suffering people are going through, citing homeowners in Henderson whose homes were destroyed by a mudslide, and farmers across the state who either weren’t able to get crops in this year or who had crops destroyed by water.
“People are very resilient and strong, and to see the help they give neighbors and friends, and even complete strangers, is quite extraordinary,” Dayton said.
After his meeting in Delano, Dayton drove by the city’s downtown levee along the Crow River before heading to Chaska to attend a ground-breaking event for a flood mitigation project in Chaska. Later that day, he also met with emergency management officials in Scott County and Dakota County.