River peaks in Aitkin, high waters to remain for days | BrainerdDispatch.com | Brainerd, Minnesota

River peaks in Aitkin, high waters to remain for days

Posted: June 27, 2012 - 10:20pm
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Steve Kohls/Brainerd Dispatch Four diesel pumps draw water from Black Bear Lake in Wolford Township and pump it over a dike into the Mississippi River at the Trommald Boat access Wednesday.
Steve Kohls/Brainerd Dispatch Four diesel pumps draw water from Black Bear Lake in Wolford Township and pump it over a dike into the Mississippi River at the Trommald Boat access Wednesday.

The peak flooding of the Mississippi River at Aitkin was under way Wednesday and the river level is expected to remain high for many days, reported the National Weather Service in Duluth (NWS).

The river was expected to see a slight rise Wednesday, June 27, and as of 3 p.m., emergency management and other officials reported flooding across Aitkin. Weather forecasts for the next five days show less than one-quarter of an inch of rain.

At 11 a.m. Wednesday, the NWS reported that the water level stage in Aitkin was 18.6 feet, with flood stage at 12 feet. It forecasts that the water will begin a slow fall. At 19 feet, the transformer station needs emergency protection.

As the flood warning continues for the Mississippi River near Aitkin, city and county officials are focusing on the needs of flood-affected residents. There has been an urgent need to protect property and infrastructure from rising flood waters in Aitkin and the greater Aitkin County area, but the focus is gradually shifting to meet the basic needs of residents, the Minnesota Incident Command System (MICS), consisting of the state’s emergency response agencies, reported in a news release.

The Aitkin County Sheriff set up a phone number for information or assistance with flood-related issues at (218) 927-7400 or (888) 900-2138. Staff will direct people to resources for flood preparation, or help to deal with the physical or emotional effects of the flood emergency. Some families have had to leave their homes and are being assisted with necessities of life of food, shelter, water and emergency transportation.

Informational meetings will continue to be held at 6 p.m. daily at Aitkin City Hall and are open to anyone within or outside of Aitkin.

Moderate to major flooding also is occurring along other stretches of the Mississippi River in north central Minnesota. The water on Big Sandy Lake was at about 1222.9 feet as of Wednesday afternoon, which is 5.3 feet higher than before the heavy rains last week and 6.25 feet higher than the normal summer level, reported the NWS. This reservoir appears to be cresting at this time.

Docks and boat lifts in Big Sandy Lake and Lake Minnewawa are under water, and many residential streets around the lakes and flowages are flooded, reported the MICS. Minnesota DNR and the Aitkin County Sheriff have boats positioned at critical points around the lake so that people in need of urgent medical attention can be moved to meet emergency vehicles, or so that first responders can get in to residences cut off by flood waters.

Approximately 250 people from around Big Sandy Lake in McGregor have attended public informational meetings at Grace Lutheran Church (The Log Church) in McGregor at 5 p.m. daily. Grace Lutheran Church will be staffed from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., for distribution of relief supplies and information until the need diminishes. This includes food, water and supplies for cleaning up after flood waters start to recede.

The county is staying abreast of changes in road condition so that at any time emergency vehicles know how to get to specific parts of the county.

Sandbags are still being made available to residents who have not yet been able to protect vulnerable properties, reported the MICS. The Sheriff’s dispatch number can direct people to the appropriate location to pick up sandbags.

For information on road closures go to www.co.aitkin.mn.us.

The Mississippi River in Brainerd was at 17.5 feet as of 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, with the flood stage at 13 feet. As of 10 a.m. Wednesday, the river near Fort Ripley was at 12.3 feet, with flood stage at 10 feet. Minor flooding is occurring and minor flooding is forecast, reported the NWS. At 12 feet the boat landing and parking lot at the public access are under water.

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at jennifer.stockinger@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5851. Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jennewsgirl.