Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Documenting Faribault’s latest flood, the third since 2010 September 22, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 9:55 PM
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Locals are drawn under the viaduct that links the west and east side of Faribault during yet another flood in our community caused by excessive rainfall. Here the Straight River runs

Locals are drawn under the viaduct Thursday evening during yet another flood in our community caused by excessive rainfall. Here the Straight River runs over its banks. A flood warning continues until 5 a.m. Friday.

 

THE SCENES ARE ALL TOO FAMILIAR.

 

The water has risen so high that the Cannon River dam is no longer visible next to the Faribault Woolen Mill.

 

The dam no longer visible.

 

 

A line of sandbags protect the mill operation and retail store along the banks of the Cannon River.

 

Sandbags stacked outside the Faribault Woolen Mill.

 

Police tape runs along the sidewalk on Second Avenue between the Faribault Woolen Mill and Faribault Foods.

Second Avenue between the Faribault Woolen Mill and Faribault Foods.

Police tape.

Several blocks of Second Avenue by the Cannon River are closed.

Several blocks of Second Avenue from Faribault Foods (left), past the Woolen Mill (right) to Caseys General Store were closed. The street runs past the Cannon River.

Roads barricaded.

Onlookers gather at the bridge entry to Teepee Tonka Park, now flooded by the Straight River.

The bridge entry to Teepee Tonka Park, now flooded by the Straight River.

And locals gathered by the dozens to document the scenes, to see how the mighty Cannon and Straight Rivers have once again overflowed their banks.

 

This Twin Cities news crew, parked near the Rice County Fairgrounds entry Thursday evening, was filming at the Faribault Woolen Mill.

 

A Twin Cities TV crew comes, too, pulled by the current of a news story.

 

Locals headed across the Faribault Woolen Mill parking lot toward the rising Cannon River.

Locals head across the Faribault Woolen Mill parking lot toward the rising Cannon River.

 

While the gawkers gawk, the sun draws a slim line of gold between grey clouds and glassy water.

 

Three police vehicles pulled into the Faribault Foods parking lot to check on folks checking out the flooded river along Second Avenue.

 

Police and firefighters watch the river watchers.

 

The Straight River rages toward the Faribault wastewater treatment plant.

 

Blocks away the Straight River churns muddy brown, raging under the bridge near the wastewater treatment plant.

 

A hastily built berm and sandbags protect the treatment plant.

 

Truckers haul dirt to construct a make-shift temporary berm protecting this city infrastructure.

 

During past floods, there have been issues with the sewer system.

As in past floods, the city has had to deal with sewer issues. This scene is by South Alexander Park.

Memories of the September 2010 and June 2014 floods linger.

 

A flooded street by Heritage Park near the Straight river close to downtown.

A flooded street by Heritage Park near the Straight River close to downtown.

I’ve walked these roads, these sidewalks, these parking lots, this grass before, documenting the flooding.

 

In the midst of the flooding, beauty is reflected, here on the Cannon River.

In the midst of the flooding, beauty is reflected, here on the Cannon River near the Faribault Woolen Mill.

Still the scenes pull me here, into the quiet of an autumn night for the third flood in seven years.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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Dealing with flooding in Faribault

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 11:51 AM
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Sandbags protect the Faribault Woolen Mill from the rising Cannon River.

Sandbags protect the Faribault Woolen Mill from the rising Cannon River in this June 2014 file photo. A similar scene is unfolding today.

AS I WRITE, SANDBAGGING is underway at Faribault’s historic woolen mill along the banks of the rising Cannon River.

At noon, the Faribault City Council will meet during an emergency session to declare a State of Emergency in my community. That allows the city to deal immediately with flooding caused by heavy rainfall.

The City of Faribault has issued an emergency alert, ordering motorists not to drive through or around barricades. With two rivers—the Straight and the Cannon—running through town, there are major flooding concerns.

We’ve seen this all before, in September 2010 and in June 2014. My community appears ready as we continue under a flood warning through tonight.

Be safe wherever you are/travel in flooded Minnesota today.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Wisconsin’s rural character revealed along State Highway 21

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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DRIVE THE INTERSTATE and you mostly miss the nuances of a place.

On a rainy Friday afternoon, I photographed this scene along Wisconsin Highway 21, a rural region of the state.

On a rainy Friday afternoon, I photographed this scene along Wisconsin Highway 21, a rural region of the state.

But travel a back county road or a state highway and you begin to see the details that comprise a location. Like rural Wisconsin.

Stuck behind farm equipment along Highway 21.

Stuck behind farm equipment along Highway 21.

Wisconsin State Highway 21 between Tomah and Oshkosh has become a familiar stretch of highway for my husband and me as we travel that route to reach our second daughter’s home in the Fox Valley region. It is a busy stretch of roadway which often leaves us wishing for a quicker, safer east-west route. But options are limited, especially if we don’t want to travel through the Twin Cities metro.

The natural attraction, Castle Rock, juts up from the landscape.

The natural attraction, Castle Rock, juts up from the landscape near Coloma.

So we make the best of it, watching for the cranberry bogs east of Tomah, the Amish between Coloma and Wautoma, the natural wonder of Castle Rock,

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Probably the oldest drive-in along Wisconsin Highway 21, the Milty Wilty has been in business in Wautoma for 70 years.

the Milty Wilty in Wautoma and anything that screams Wisconsin.

Small family farms abound along Wisconsin State Highway 21.

Small family farms abound along Wisconsin State Highway 21.

Highway 21 takes us past potato and dairy farms,

Hunting shacks for sale in Redgranite.

Hunting shacks for sale in Redgranite.

past hunting land and the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, across rivers and creeks,

Businesses in downtown Redgranite, one of my favorite towns along Highway 21.

Businesses in downtown Redgranite, one of my favorite towns along Highway 21.

through small towns like Omro and Redgranite,

The names of small town bars, like this one in Redgranite, amuse me.

The names of small town bars, like this one in Redgranite, amuse me.

past bars and churches,

Roadside stands are plentiful this time of year.

Roadside stands are plentiful this time of year. Here’s one in Redgranite.

to roadside stands and Piggly Wigglies.

Posted in a front yard in Redgranite.

Posted in a front yard in Redgranite.

This route reveals so much about the character of Wisconsin. Signs for brat fries. Bars aplenty. Strong opinions voiced in handcrafted signs.

One of my favorite restaurant icons, located in Wautoma.

One of my favorite restaurant icons, located in Wautoma.

Small town diners.

Making silage.

Making silage.

Farming and fishing.

Scenes along Wisconsin State Highway 21 reflect this area's rural character.

Scenes along Wisconsin State Highway 21 reflect this area’s rural character. This is near Coloma.

Travel the interstate and you will miss most of this. But follow a state highway and you will begin to understand a place. Like rural Wisconsin.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling