Flooding waters continue to linger in the Brainerd lakes area causing homeowners more grief in their own yards. And now the Brainerd Community Garden is under water.
The Brainerd Community Garden — located southwest of Kiwanis Park near the Mississippi River — near where Brainerd officials closed East River Road between the Kiwanis Park parking lot and Jenny Street because of the rising river elevation.
“It’s knee-deep,” said Tad Hoskins, who oversees the community garden, which is in its second year. “We’re not giving up. The weather this week should help and I’m confident that people will be able to replant and/or salvage some existing plants.”
Hoskins said garden organizers won’t know what the outcome of the flood will have on the plants for about two weeks. Hoskins said once the water recedes, they will clean things up, evaluate the garden plots and then replant.
The community garden is 65 feet by 225 feet and there are 47 community gardeners, plus volunteer gardeners from the Rotary and Sertoma Clubs who are raising vegetables for the Soup Kitchen and the food shelf. Hoskins said some residents have more than one plot.
“We hope to save a few things,” said Hoskins. “And we’ll be looking for donations from the garden centers to replant.”
Anne Nelson Fisher of Brainerd, who has a plot in the garden, was shocked when she saw the community garden underwater Saturday night.
“Everything but the tops of the plants in the raised beds is under water,” said Nelson Fisher. “We just put in a shed will tools in it and all of it is underwater.
“I didn’t realize how vulnerable the garden was to the flooding. I feel really bad for the people who were really counting on this as their portion of groceries to provide for their families.”
The National Weather Service in Duluth (NWS) reported that the flood crest generated by last week’s rain is working down the Mississippi River and the highest levels along the reach of the river is expected Monday through the middle of the week.
As of 11:30 a.m. Monday, the Mississippi River near Brainerd was at 17.2 feet, with flood stage at 13 feet. At 16 feet, the water may cause flooding on at least one private home.
Lakeshore owners also are seeing high water.
Judy Brazeman, who has a home on the west side of Upper South Long Lake, said she and her neighbors have been plagued by high water and the problem has been made worse by people “speeding full throttle, back and forth.”
Brazeman said she wished boaters would demonstrate common courtesy during this period of high water and keep their speeds down. Her fire pit and those of her neighbors, she said, are filled with water. A TV antenna in her yard now appears to be in the lake. She said her docks had to be pulled in. She expressed concerns about erosion and said much of her lawn is now under water.
“We used to be 75 feet from the lake,” she said. “I think now we’re like 13 (feet). We just cringe every time speed boats go by.”
Bill Kronstedt, a Maple Grove Township supervisor and a DNR lake gauge volunteer reader, said Upper South Long Lake is about two feet higher than the low mark recorded in April.
“It’s the highest it’s been since the flood of ‘72,” he said.
Kronstedt is a lake resident and while he wasn’t living there in 1972, he said his grandparents lived there then and he visited the lake frequently.
Crow Wing County Sheriff Todd Dahl has urged boaters to use caution and be respectful of people affected by boat waves into shore.
“I’ve never seen the water levels this high ever in my lifetime,” Dahl said of the flood levels in the county. “We ask boaters and motorists to continue to be patient and to use common sense when traveling ... Everyone wants the water levels to go down, but it’s up in the air. We’re not sure when the water will go down. There is just nowhere for the water to go. We’re hoping for good weather with no rain in the forecast.”
Dahl said with the vast volume of water in the county — 417 lakes that make up 92,000 acres — the watercraft and people make the decision complex.
“We will continue to address this issue throughout the next few weeks and certainly do our best in keeping you appraised of what to expect,” said Dahl.
According to Crow Wing County website, the roads that have been closed due to the heavy rainfall and flooding are: County roads 105 and 106; and County State Aid Highway (CSAH) 30, east of State Trunk Highway 6 and
CSAH 36 east of County Road 106.
(Associate Editor Mike O’Rourke contributed to this article)