The Mississippi River near Aitkin is expected to continue to rise to near 18.4 feet by early afternoon Tuesday June 26 then begin to fall, reported the National Weather Service of Duluth (NWS).
The NWS reports that the river near Aitkin at 11 a.m. Monday was at 18.3 feet, with flood stage at 12 feet. When the river is at 18 feet, the NWS reported, the sewage plant is in danger of becoming inoperative.
With the flooding in Aitkin, U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack, R-Minn., and state Rep. Carolyn McElfatrick, R-Deer River, (District 3B) surveyed the Aitkin area on Saturday to get a first hand look at the flooding and road damage caused by the recent heavy rains.
According to a news release, Cravaack and McElfatrick met with officials including Aitkin Mayor Garry Tibbitts, Aitkin County Commissioner Mark Wedel and Aitkin County Administrator Pat Wussow. Aitkin Fire Chief Brian Pisarek and Aitkin Police Chief Terry Thompson provided an update on flood preparations. In Aitkin, Cravaack and McElfatrick stopped to help fill sandbags. Rising water in the Mississippi, Ripple and Rice Rivers, as well as the Cedar and Sissabagamah Brook have engulfed area residences and businesses in flood waters, the news release stated.
The highest recorded flood level at Aitkin was in 1950, when the river crested at 22.5 feet.
The group also made a quick tour of some of the problem areas around Aitkin and then Cravaack proceeded to the McGregor area, which is also sustaining major flooding problems. The Big Sandy Lake area near McGregor is under intense flooding pressure from rising water as it enters the Big Sandy Reservoir before it’s eventually released into the Mississippi River at the Libby Damn.
Residences have had to leave their homes for higher ground and livestock gathered and trucked out of the area to protect them from the rising flood waters. It will take some time for the flood waters to abate, as all the water in the Mississippi watershed to the north must eventually pass by Aitkin on its way to the Gulf of Mexico, the news release stated.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, Monday updated the forecast crest for Big Sandy Lake, near McGregor. The Corps expects Sandy Lake to crest Friday at an elevation between 1,223 and 1,223.5 feet. The Corps anticipates lake levels to drop at a very slow rate once the lake crests. If additional rainfall occurs within the basin, the crest could rise higher than currently forecast.
The Corps reminds lake residents during these periods of high water, wind and wave action can increase the lake level. High winds could have an impact of up to an additional 0.5 feet on the downwind side of the lake.
The Corps placed sandbags on the north side of the dam to protect the structure from potential erosion. This is a precautionary effort.
For information on protecting property from a flood, visit the St. Paul District website: http://www.mvp.usace.army.mil/docs/disaster_response/CEMVP_Flood-Fight_H... .
As a result of recent flooding and storms, the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs is offering Disaster Relief Grants for reimbursable expenses to veterans in Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Dakota, Goodhue, Lake, Rice, and St. Louis Counties, per the Governor’s Emergency Executive Order 12-09.
Outside of the Aitkin/McGregor area, the NWS reported that the Mississippi River near Fort Ripley was 12.4 feet, with flood stage at 10 feet at 11 a.m. Monday. The river is expected to rise to near 12.5 feet by midnight Tuesday June 26 and then begin to fall. At 12-feet the boat landing and parking lot at the public access are under water.