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Flooding swamps Mankato; 100,000 acres of crops lost

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MANKATO, Minn. — June’s persistent precipitation had communities across southern Minnesota coping with floodwaters Wednesday, including in and around Mankato, where several inches of rain had fallen.

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City officials at the outset listed more than a dozen streets and intersections that were closed and said motorists must “use caution as they travel throughout the city” on roads that remain open despite standing water. Most of those have since reopened.

The Minnesota River, which slices through the college town and preseason home of the Minnesota Vikings, was described as “rapidly rising,” the city’s statement issued around sunrise continued.

Highways leading in and out of Mankato also were feeling the effects Wednesday morning, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Mudslides have Highway 66 south of town closed. Debris and mudslides have closed one lane of southbound Hwy. 169 from St. Peter to Mankato, and flooding has closed one lane of westbound Hwy. 14 near Eagle Lake.

Additional closures may occur without warning, given that flash flooding is difficult to predict, MnDOT added.

The road closures resulted from heavy rain that fell shortly after midnight in Mankato and nearby areas, according to the National Weather Service. The storm also brought hail with it, the Weather Service said.

More than 5 inches of rain was reported 4 miles east of Mankato, according to the Weather Service. North Mankato endured 3.5 inches.

One immediate consequence of rising river levels: Land of Memories park is now closed. The city park includes a campground, soccer fields, disc golf course, bike trails, boat ramp and a pavilion.

To the southeast in Freeborn County, a thunderstorm roared through Alden overnight, knocking out electricity to a portion of the tiny town, according to the Weather Service.

Elsewhere overnight in southern Minnesota, wind speeds of 56 mph

and more than 3 inches of rain were reported in New Ulm by the Weather Service. Just to the north of town, a 40- by 60-foot pole building was leveled.

Gov. Mark Dayton, back from a quick visit Tuesday to International Falls in far northern Minnesota to assess flooding, has a similar trip planned for Friday to Luverne and Edgerton in southwestern Minnesota.

Rock County officials in that corner of the state estimate that 100,000 acres of crops have been lost to flooding out of 250,000 tillable acres.

According to the state Department of Public Safety Homeland Security and Emergency Management division, which activated an operations center in response to the mid-June deluge, storms affected other areas of southern Minnesota:

* The state prison in Faribault has “significant flooding” in a workshop area. Arrangements are being made for pumps and sandbags.

* Homeowners in Steele County are sandbagging around their homes.

* High water in Waseca County has numerous roads closed.

* Straight-line winds “heavily damaged” a home in Albert Lea.

* The city of Maple Island is without electricity.

The Twin Cities area was forecast to get more rain starting Wednesday evening, with showers and thunderstorms anticipated after 10 p.m. By this  morning, there could be up to an inch of rain added to an already saturated metro area.

Monitors in St. Paul say the Mississippi River is expected to rise above 15 feet. At that level, additional erosion is expected along Water Street.

In central Minnesota, the list of no-wake zones is rapidly expanding. The Stearns County Sheriff’s Office has added no wake zones for Koronis Lake in Paynesville Township, Rice Lake in Eden Lake and Paynesville Township and Big Lake in Munson Township. Those are in addition to the Chain of Lakes and Sauk River area around Cold Spring and Richmond as well as Two Rivers Lake in the St. Anna area.

“The Stearns County area continues to receive large amounts of rain and other lakes may be added as needed,” the county said in a statement urging boaters to slow down.

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