Flooding is not new to Aitkin County, and with the surplus of precipitation, this year yields potential to be another flood season.
Minnesotans are familiar with snow. Many take advantage of the white fluffy substance for seasonal sports, such as skiing, tubing and the common snowmobiling. Many others despise snow, and spend the winter protesting what they interpret as a yearly plague upon the state. No matter the personal opinion, everyone in the area deals with snow, this year more than usual. That’s an issue.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), spring flooding occurs when sudden warm temperatures melt large quantities of snow while the ground is still frozen. This runoff is then collected in any geographical low spots, including lakes, rivers and basements. Because each cubic foot of snow can contain gallons of water, flooding can become an overwhelming issue very quickly, especially when coupled with spring rain or storms.
On Wednesday, Meteorologist Steve Gohde from Duluth said, “There is a high probability of flooding on the Mississippi River. We are looking at a 95 percent chance of minor flooding in Aitkin and Fort Ripley. There is 83 percent chance of moderate flooding.”
On Thursday, several of Brainerd’s schools had water inside its buildings. Standing water led to pavement failure on a portion of I-94 near Minneapolis, and the Minnesota Department of Transportation listed over 24 roads across Minnesota being affected by water as well, six of those being central Minnesota. There were also many reports of basements containing water, and roughly 1,000 people had to be evacuated from a mobile home community in Jordan due to water. Several areas in Central Minnesota were under a flood watch.
On Wednesday, an employee at Aitkin Unclaimed Freight reported water leaking onto the store’s floor. The store’s employees quickly cleaned up the mess, and no damage was observed. The local newspaper also wasn’t safe, as the lower level saw water seepage and employees and volunteers rushed to rescue irreplacable archived newspapers and photos. The rescue was successful.
FEMA advises everyone, especially those at flood risk, to ensure they are covered by insurance in the event of a flood. Most standard policies do not cover flood damage. FEMA also advises homeowners to document belongings that could be damaged by excess water.
Aitkin County Engineer John Welle offered advice for landowners, “Be aware of flood forecasts and be prepared with sandbags if needed to protect your property.” He also advises travelers to plan alternate routes if roads become affected, to obey any warning signs and never drive on roads covered in water.