Too much water, much too fast!
Rain, rain, go away. Just don’t come again another day … at least not any time soon.
The deluge of downpours came and went last week, but the affects will linger throughout the summer in the southwestern portion of the state.
Farms south and east of Minneota received the most rain and damage to crops. The Greg Moorse farm east of Minneota recorded nearly four inches of rain last Tuesday, then the Minneota area received up to an inch more from a downpour this Tuesday, July 10.
“We feel fortunate that we didn’t get as much as some places,” said Bruce Bot, who farms two miles east of Minneota on Highway 24.
“We had 1.7 inches of rain on Sunday (June 30) and 1.7 inches on Tuesday (July 3).”
“It rained hard, but it seemed to go down quickly, too,” said Bot. “We had some standing water in the fields, but not as bad as they got south and east of us.”
Repeated heavy thunderstorms pounded the area last Tuesday, and compounded with the already saturated lawns and fields from previous heavy rains in June, left standing water in low-lying farm fields, ditches and residential areas.
Some highways and streets had to be closed as rivers, lakes, sloughs, and ditches overflowed their banks and caused major flooding in several areas.
Farmers in the area saw many of their fields flooded out that are situated in low-lying areas.
Standing water was still visible several days after the heavy rains fell. The downpours left crops standing in water, making it difficult for those plants to survive.
Yellowing of low-lying crops that had been under water from previous June downpours are visible in many areas.
“When the corn and bean roots are underwater, they can’t get oxygen,” said Bruce Potter of the University of Minnesota Extension Office in Lamberton.
“If they are saturated and have no oxygen, they can’t take up any nitrogen; so basically they drown.”
Large scars are also now visible in low-lying bean fields where rains uprooted and washed out bean crops; leaving only the black dirt behind.
Some farmers attempted to pump the water out of their fields, while others are simply waiting patiently for the water to eventually soak into the ground.
“You hate to complain about too much rain in June and July,” Bot said. “It takes rain to make grain, but we did get a little too much.” “We don’t know the percentage of fields affected around the Minneota and Ghent area yet,” said Potter.
“They weren’t hit as hard as down in Tracy and Slayton and those areas. But any crops that are affected by all this rain can’t be good news for farmers.”
Rainfalls amounts, according to the National Weather Service, were anywhere from just under two inches to close to five inches within a two-mile radius of Minneota.
Because of low prices, grain and soybean farmers were already feeling the pinch even before Mother Nature decided to intervene. And Minnesota farmers are also being affected by China’s recent tariff on soybeans in its trade wars with the United States.
The Asian nation is the largest importer of soybeans in the world, which they mainly use for cooking oil and feeding livestock.
Minnesota is the fourth largest agricultural export state in the U.S.; with soybean its biggest export crop. Needless to say, 2018 hasn’t been a good year so far for some area farmers.
In the city limits of Ghent, rainfall was measured around six inches, which descended on top of already saturated soil.
“We had similar rainfall in 2010 and from past experience and information received from the local Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officer, we expected the water levels to keep rising,” said Ghent City Administrator Dawn Vlaminck.
“Around 6 a.m., the Ghent Fire Department was paged to start filling and placing sandbags.”
The city’s first priority was infrastructure so one crew began placing sandbags around the main lift station.
Another crew was filling and placing sandbags at five residences. Many of Ghent’s residents reported water in their basements.
“The water was also rising on the south edge of town near the Bluebird Creek Addition,” Vlaminck said.
“When the water rose to a threatening level, Kurt Gillund of Rite-Way Drainage was hired to reinforce the walking path that runs along the south edge of the development.” Gillund, a member of the Ghent Fire Department, was on hand and had his excavator nearby, so he was able to begin work quickly by placing dirt beside the pathway to thwart the water. Minneota mayor John Rolbiecki stopped in Ghent to offer any assistance, so the Minneota Fire Department was brought in to assist in sandbagging.
“We were there from 2 p.m. until about 6:30 p.m.,” said Minneota Assistant Fire Chief Brad Minnehan.
“They got a lot more rain there than we did in Minneota.”
Additional reserve sandbags were filled in case the rains fell again.
“By 7 p.m., the lift station was completely surrounded by sandbags and two large pumps were bring used to pump the excess water out of the area,” explained Vlaminck.
“We also had a fire truck pumping water out of the Bluebird Addition.” Around 3 a.m., the water peaked and volunteers were able to return home.
“Thanks to the hard work and experience of Jesse Christianson, our public works director; Ron Sussner, our emergency management coordinator; and all of the members of our volunteer fire department and volunteers from our community, the situation was kept under control,” Vlaminck noted.
“We are thankful to everyone who volunteered their time. They all worked very hard under hot, humid and stressful conditions.”
The Sami Shahin residence was inundated with water in the basement after a basement window broke out, allowing the water to pour in.
The Countryside Golf Course in Minneota was forced to close on Sunday, July 1; Tuesday, July 3; and Wednesday, July 4, due to standing water and the creek backing up.
“We had standing water on numbers two and four,” said Brandon Hennen, the groundskeeper at Countryside Golf Club. “The creek backed up on number two.”
The cart path from the number one tee box to the green was completely under water. Even as late as Friday, water was still ankle deep there so carts had to travel through that portion slowly.
“If you didn’t have a cart, you would have to take your shoes and socks off to get through,” Hennen laughed.
“The water is going down an inch or two every day.
But we still are only allowing carts on the pathways. And we’re just starting to get out and mow (on Friday).”
High water forced evacuations of many homes and cabins in the Tracy and Slayton areas.
One residential home in Tracy had a wall collapse. Several roads were underwater in Cottonwood, Murray, Lyon and Redwood Counties, including a county road near Walnut Grove in which water washed away a large portion of the road.
“We didn’t have to close any of the highways or county roads around Minneota or Ghent,” said Mandi Lighthizer, MnDOT Director of Public Engagement based in Willmar.
“But Highway 19 west of Marshall was closed on Tuesday (July 3). And many of the county roads and highways around Tracy, Slayton and Walnut Grove were closed for a few days.” MnDOT issued a “no travel” advisory for Murray County on July 3, the same day the Tracy Police Department advised no travel within city limits because of excessive flooding caused by sewers unable to keep up with the heavy rains.
The Redwood River diversion channel in Marshall backed up and came within inches of overflowing its banks in one area, it was reported.
MnWARN, a statewide water agency response network, assisted the communities of Garvin, Lynd and Russell by sending additional sump pumps. Lake Shetek southwest of Tracy rose dramatically, flooding homes, cabins and roads to the point of it being declared a disaster area.
The Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant and the Family Festival in the park, which runs three consecutive weekends, was postponed the weekend of July 6-7 due to wet grounds.
The pageant will now be held for three days instead of two over the next two weekends.
The Family Festival will be held the next two Saturdays. In Minneota, some residents reported water in their basements after Tuesday’s showers, while others said their sump pumps were running almost non-stop.
The recent soaking was caused by one thunderstorm cell forming between Marshall and Redwood Falls, according to the NWS.
Because the storm unexpectedly stalled over that area, it left much more rain than anticipated. The largest rainfall amounts were along and southwest of the Minnesota River, in and around Redwood Falls, Marshall, Tracy, Slayton and Walnut Grove.
These storms came on the heels of a soggy June, when many of the same areas received monthly rainfall totals of 8-12 inches.
Lyon County issued a disaster declaration for flooding that affected some county communities and residents.
The flash-flood warning remained in effect in Lyon, Murray and Redwood Counties until Thursday afternoon. Ghent rainfall amounts were between five and just over seven inches over a two-mile radius.