Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Flood prep underway in Faribault June 18, 2014

Early Thursday evening along the banks of the Cannon River in Faribault, clouds build to the west.

Early Wednesday evening along the banks of the Cannon River in Faribault, rain clouds build to the west.

FARIBAULT HOLDS ITS COLLECTIVE breath Wednesday evening as grey clouds hang heavy over this southeastern Minnesota city, once again threatening rain.

Co-honorary parade grand marshall Roy Anderson addresses the crowd at the opening of Heritage Days.

Co-honorary parade grand marshal Roy Anderson addresses the crowd at the opening of Heritage Days.

At Central Park, where the annual Heritage Days celebration kicks off with an opening ceremony, Mayor John Jasinski cuts short his welcome. He’s got more serious matters on his mind—tending to a community where a State of Emergency was declared Wednesday morning.

The rising Cannon River along Second Avenue nearly skims the bridge. Faribault Foods is in the background and the Faribault Woolen Mill is to the right.

The rising Cannon River along Second Avenue nearly skims the bridge. Faribault Foods is in the background and the Faribault Woolen Mill is to the right. This is near the Rice County Fairgrounds along a major roadway through the city.

The waters of the Straight and Cannon rivers, which run through town, are rising. And the city is preparing for possible flooding, with reminders of the September 2010 flash flood ever present.

Sandbags have been placed in the mill parking lot next to the Cannon River.

Sandbags have been placed in the mill parking lot next to the Cannon River.

At the Faribault Woolen Mill, Heritage Days tours have been canceled with the focus instead on sandbagging and protecting the historic building that sits along the Cannon River.

Photographing the rising Cannon River. The dam here is no longer visible.

Photographing the rising Cannon River. The dam here is no longer visible. Typically, the river does flow against the rear of the mill.

Locals flock to Father Slevin Park, next to the Cannon, next to the Woolen Mill, Wednesday evening to photograph the scene. The Cannon River dam is no longer visible.

Sandbags protect the Faribault Woolen Mill from the rising Cannon River.

Sandbags protect the Faribault Woolen Mill from the rising Cannon River.

Sandbags hold down a pipe at the Faribault Woolen Mill factory and retail store.

Sandbags hold down a pipe at the Faribault Woolen Mill factory and retail store.

An overview of the Cannon River, looking south from Father Slevin Park to the Faribault Woolen Mill.

An overview of the Cannon River, looking southeast from Father Slevin Park to the Faribault Woolen Mill and Faribault Foods.

Several layers of sandbags rim the parking lot next to the factory store.

Sandbags also protect Faribault Foods.

Sandbags also protect Faribault Foods.

Straight River floodwaters block access to a Faribault Foods loading dock.

Straight River floodwaters block access to a Faribault Foods loading dock.

Sandbags border the door to bean receiving at Faribault Foods.

Sandbags border the door to bean receiving at Faribault Foods.

Directly across Second Avenue, sandbags likewise protect Faribault Foods. Behind the canning company, the rising Straight River has already blocked access to loading docks. Other doors are also barricaded with plastic-covered sandbags.

Working to protect the city's wastewater plant, which sits along the Straight River.

Working to protect the city’s wastewater plant, which sits along the Straight River.

The entry to the city's treatment plant.

The entry to the city’s treatment plant.

Just down the road, at the city’s wastewater treatment plant, a steady flow of dump trucks enter and exit the facility, presumably delivering sand. Sandbags are already in place here.

Sandbag central.

Sandbag central.

Near the Faribault American Legion, just a block off the historic downtown, workers shovel sand into bags at the city’s sandbag central. Road closed signs are at the ready.

The Straight River has flooded Teepee Tonka Park and churns here toward the Highway 60 viaduct connecting the east and west sides of Faribault.

The Straight River has flooded Teepee Tonka Park and churns here toward the Highway 60 viaduct connecting the east and west sides of Faribault.

Flooded Teepee Tonka Park.

Flooded Teepee Tonka Park.

Across the Straight River in Teepee Tonka Park, the bridge into the park is blocked and the river rushes in a frenzy.

The bridge into Teepee Tonka Park is partially flooded and thus closed.

The bridge into Teepee Tonka Park is partially flooded and thus closed.

Onlookers step across police tape to photograph the scene—until the cops cruise up and advise that “the tape is there for a reason.” They don’t want anyone tumbling into the muddy, raging waters.

Police arrive to protect the curious public at Teepee Tonka Park.

Police arrive to check out the situation at Teepee Tonka Park.

Darkness falls and Faribault waits.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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31 Responses to “Flood prep underway in Faribault”

  1. Ken Deacon Says:

    What a delightful name for a park; Teepee Tonka. Do you know its origins?

  2. randy Says:

    Good thing you’re wearing the high water pants (readers-2nd pic RH side).

    • You are so funny, dear husband. But, yes, a good thing I am wearing high water pants.

      Yes, that’s me on the bandshell stage at Central Park during Heritage Days opening reception accepting my first place award in the photo contest, “personal heritage” category.

  3. Dan Traun Says:

    This rain is getting out of hand. Enough already. I am ready to begin watering the plants again so it can stop. Perhaps next week will be dryer; that is what I am hearing anyway. Hopefully the Cannon River quickly. We have been waiting all Spring to get out there with our kayaks. Reside on high ground for now I guess 🙂

    • Best keep those kayaks grounded, Dan. Putting any type of boat into the current raging rivers would rate as foolish and dangerous.

      My husband, who works in Northfield, reports the Cannon River on the rise there this morning. Just north of Faribault, the Cannon is already over its banks and flooding land. Waters also rising there.

      The rivers here still aren’t as high as in the flash flood of September 2010. More rain falling as I write.

  4. westerner54 Says:

    Oh no…flooding is no fun. Here’s hoping the rain stops and the rivers go down!

  5. lanae Says:

    As of yesterday we are 1 inch of rain short of the record since the rain amount was first recorded. I looked in my rain gage this AM and we are only 1/4 short. So by now we should have a new record. There are 100’s of trees down, basements including our that flooded when the electricity went out no sump pumps worked. Dale and I baled water for over an hour and we still have wet carpet and have to check the walls. Farms have water where the owners have never seen water set.
    We are lucky to have lakes and not rivers. I pray to God that it stops soon and that he sends the rain to the states that truly need it. California watch out that’s my choice!!!!
    Blessings to you all
    Audreys sister Lanae

  6. The flooding is all over the news. It sounds better than tornado destruction but in the long run just as damaging.

  7. treadlemusic Says:

    I think there are many who are “holding their breath” as the rains continue. More serious rains for later today are a bit unnerving. Sun tomorrow!!!!! Thanks for the report. Prayers continue…………………..

  8. Holy cow, stay safe, Audrey. We’ve got plenty of flooded roads up here in the Twin Cities, but it looks like things might be a bit worse there.

    • Personally, we’re fine. But…there is certainly need for concern for others living near the river. I expect the rivers will continue to rise for a day or two as rainwater drains into smaller creeks, etc., which feed into the Cannon and Straight Rivers.

      As of last evening when I toured, the rivers were not nearly at the levels seen during the flash flood of September 2010.

  9. All this flooding gives me chills because my parents are right in the middle of it and feel so helpless that I am not there helping them out. GO AWAY RAIN – COME OUT WEST – WE NEED THE RAIN!!! I am thinking and praying for the Midwest that the weather calms down and gives everyone a break. Be Safe 🙂

  10. Norma Says:

    Oh Audrey—-I am so sorry to read about your flooding and torrential rain fall. It is sooo hard for me to understand all that at this time. We have had flooding in our area, but not in the past 20 years or so. May the good Lord be with all of you at this time.

  11. Jackie Says:

    Just saw this post….did Faribault get more rain tonight, we got alot here in Rochester. I hope there is not too much damage with flooding :/


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