Owatonna preps for spring floods - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

by Katie Lange

Owatonna preps for spring floods

OWATONNA, Minn. (KTTC) -- September's flooding left parts of Owatonna entirely under water. Now, the city is gearing up for potential spring flooding of the Straight River, as snow continues to melt.

From filling sand bags, to making sure an emergency operation plan is in place, the city is well-organized if the forces of Mother Nature choose to show their ugly head.

Owatonna residents will remember back to September when the river closed major roads and flooded homes. In anticipation, officials have made nearly 2,500 sand bags, and have supplies to make more than 80,000. Mike Johnson, the Emergency Management Director, said plans are put in place to prevent any flooding.

"Areas where we can be effective with sand bagging we'll go in and put sand bags in place. There are some areas in the community where we'll go through and put in some dyking. We've been working with the Army Core of Engineers to go through and put in those protective measures, if we experience flooding in our area," said Johnson.

Johnson doesn't expect the community to flood like it did last fall, stating that was rare. He said officials will keep an eye on the water levels of the Straight River, Turtle Creek and Maple Creek.

If you're worried about your basement or home flooding, Chris Gannon, has some preventative measures.

"If it's a finished basement it would probably be a good idea to get all of your valuables off out of that basement area ahead of time. We know the floods can come in quite quickly," said Gannon.

The emergency management team is discussing the possibility of installing automatic gauges along major waterways in Steele county. Currently, officials are using hand crank gauges to check water levels. The automatic readings would be available on the National Weather Service.

Currently, the management team is in talks with Governor Dayton, discussing financial options to install the gauges.


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