The worst may be over for soaked areas in northwest Minnesota.
In Mahnomen, where flood waters damaged about 80 homes, the Red Cross closed its emergency shelter at the high school gymnasium on Tuesday. In Ada, where the Wild Rice River twice crested at record levels, National Guard members prepared to leave and residents geared up in anticipation of the Norman County Fair.77
In the past two weeks, about 14 inches of rain fell in the region. Volunteers had stacked sandbags and built dikes and saved many homes, although crops on half the acreage in Norman County were wiped out.
"Now we're focusing on recovery," said Karen Ahmann, chairwoman of the Mahnomen County Board. "The water is receding -- in some areas very rapidly. It looks like we're over the worst."
In Ada, the Wild Rice River crested at 17.58 feet late Monday, but had dropped at least another 6 inches by Tuesday afternoon and was expected to continue falling. Flooding problems begin in Ada when the river reaches about 14 feet. The record crest set two weeks ago was 16.8 feet.
Organizers considered canceling the fair, but the public wouldn't hear of it.
"They said, 'You can't cancel. We beat this flood. Let's have a party,"' said Don Merkens, a fair director.
So the fair gates will open a day late, on Thursday. "I hope people will be able to come out and forget about the flood," Merkens said.
There will be reminders. To get clay to add to the city's main dike, Ada residents and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dug a pair of four-foot deep holes at the fairgrounds that Merkens said were each at least 50 yards long by 50 yards wide.
Kevin Ruud, Norman County's emergency director, said workers took about 7,000 yards of clay for the dike from the fairgrounds and a few other sites around Ada. They added 4 feet to the city's mile-long dike.
"It was truckload after truckload," said Ruud, who had only seen the holes from the air.
Ruud said the final touches were put on the dike about 2 a.m. Tuesday.
There is no rain in the forecast for Ada or the next town downstream, Hendrum, where the river is expected to crest at 30 feet Thursday. Hendrum has dikes 36.5 feet high, which Ruud said should be enough to contain the Wild Rice until it flows into the Red River.
The clay will stay there for a while. "We are in no rush to take them down, not after the past two months," he said.
Just more than a week ago, President Bush declared 13 northwestern Minnesota counties a federal disaster area after flooding from previous rainstorms.
Veterinarians urge livestock in flooded areas be vaccinated
State veterinarians are urging farmers in flooded parts of northwest Minnesota to vaccinate their livestock against anthrax.
Anthrax spores can remain in the soil for decades and be released by heavy rains and flooding. Veterinarians say cattle, horses, sheep and goats can contract anthrax spores by breathing or eating them as they graze.
Experts say it's unlikely humans will develop anthrax from naturally occurring bacteria.
The vaccinations generally cost less than $2 an animal, veterinarians said.
The Minnesota Board of Health has modified rules to allow farmers to vaccinate their livestock after getting prescriptions from veterinarians. Previously, farmers had to hire veterinarians to give the shots, which increased costs.
Last year, the worst outbreak of anthrax in Minnesota since 1938 killed nearly 100 head of cattle in Kittson, Roseau, Marshall and Polk counties. Those counties have been flooded again with nine others in storms since June 9.
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