Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

As rain and snow fall, the flood threat rises in Minnesota March 22, 2011

The view from my front window at 8 a.m. today as sleet pelted Faribault.

I AWOKE THIS MORNING to a world of gray and white and sleet pelting in sheets against the windows.

So much for spring…

When I plucked the The Faribault Daily News from the front steps, shook off the water droplets soaking the paper’s plastic sleeve, removed and opened the paper, I read this headline: STILL RISING—National Weather Service declares flood warning for Rice County as Straight River closes in on 10 feet.

And so the spring flood season has begun here in Minnesota with road closures in the Henderson area southwest of the Twin Cities, between Windom and Fulda in southwestern Minnesota and probably other places of which I am unaware.

Here in Faribault, officials are keeping a close eye on the rising Straight and Cannon Rivers. Sandbags are filled and plans are in place to put them in place should the need arise. Of major concern is the riverside wastewater treatment plant which was flooded during a flash flood last September. During that flood six months ago, many homes and some businesses were inundated with floodwaters. A local riverside park, which often floods in the spring, was also under feet of water.

Upon checking the National Weather Service Twin Cities, MN., website map, I see most of the southern half of Minnesota falls under a flood warning.

For the north, winter storm and blizzard warnings have been issued. The last I heard, several inches of snow are expected to fall in my area sometime today and/or into tomorrow.

A car passes by my home at 8 a.m. as heavy sleet fell. Sleet also pelted Faribault during the night.

Rain continues to fall here as we approach the noon hour with temperatures hovering several degrees above freezing.

Personally, I’ve been affected by this wet weather with some minor water seeping into a corner of the basement—enough to soak up, move belongings and turn on the fans. It’s a hassle, but certainly nothing compared to the issues some folks will face as the snow and rain fall and the rivers rise.

PLEASE SUBMIT a comment with any information you have about rising rivers/creeks/streams and/or flooding in your area of Minnesota. I would like to share your stories with Minnesota Prairie Roots readers.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Time for Santa to return to the North Pole

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 7:16 AM
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Apparently, the elf (or Santa) to the left of the door has turned his back on winter. I love this vintage style door, the inviting front porch, the look of this house. But, time to put away the Christmas decor and decorate for spring.

HERE IT IS, three months after Christmas and already three days into spring and many houses in my southeastern Minnesota community are still decorated for Christmas.

Drive through nearly any neighborhood and you’ll spot holiday lights sagging from roof lines, once-green evergreen wreaths and garlands aging to dried, brown perfection, and reindeer prancing on rooftops.


A wreath well past its prime decorates the front of a Faribault house along with a string of holiday lights.

I even saw a Christmas tree tossed onto a front porch. Ours is buried somewhere under a melting snow bank.

Santa and Mrs. Claus, perhaps finding our Minnesota winter remarkably like that at the North Pole, have been vacationing here since early December.


Time for Santa and Mrs. Claus to pack it up and leave Faribault.

Surprisingly Mary and Joseph have not retreated to the Holy Land either as I saw them in a front yard only blocks from my home.

So what gives here? I mean, doesn’t it seem ridiculous to you that Christmas decorations are still up in late March? It’s spring, for gosh sakes.


The wreath has fallen from the door onto the steps, but the holiday garland and ribbons remain in place.

But this year I expect the lengthy display of Christmas holiday cheer has more to do with the weather than laziness on the part of Faribault residents. Because of the heavy snowfall we’ve had this season, residents couldn’t get to their Santas and Holy families and reindeer herds that were buried in deep, deep snow.

Who wants to trudge through thigh-high snow in sub-zero temps to rescue Santa after blowing or shoveling out the driveway, sidewalk and car more times than you can remember? It’s easier just to leave all of the holiday decorations until the snow melts and temperatures reach a comfortable level.

Well, Faribault residents, with the snow disappearing and temperatures rising into the 40s, now would be the time to muck your way across the lawn, pluck Santa from the ground and stow him away until November.

For those of you tempted to leave your Christmas lights on your house year-round, I have one word for you. Don’t.


And just when I thought I had seen everything, I came across this Faribault home, where Christmas lights still ring a tree trunk, flowers "bloom" in a window box and snow covers the ground. Oh, and if you look closely, you'll see Christmas bulbs strung inside, along the windows.

Now, time to fess up. On Saturday, the day before spring started, I removed this holiday decoration from my back door.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling