Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Back in Redwood County after July flash floods July 9, 2018

Just six weeks ago, spring planting was underway in this same area of rural Minnesota. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo May 2018.


DURING MY LAST TRIP to southwestern Minnesota in mid May, farmers worked the land. Tilling. Planting crops. Rushing to get seeds into the soil after a late spring start.

Now, some six weeks later, acres and acres of that same cropland lie under water, corn and soybean fields flooded by torrential rains. Flash floods that turned farm land into lakes early last week.

On our route west of Redwood Falls then north to Belview then later east of Belview along county roads back to Redwood, Randy and I observed lots of standing water. Massive lakes where crops should now thrive. It was disheartening to see the efforts and hopes of so many farmers gone. Flash, just like that. Weather is always the gamble of farming. I would never have the mental fortitude to farm. I admire those who do.

As we drove, I noted the wash of debris along shoulders, evidence that floodwaters overtook the county road. We drove a narrow ribbon of asphalt, water edging both sides of the roadway. Orange cones and orange flags flagged danger. An orange snow fence blocked a gravel road.

I understood that, days after the flash flood, we had not seen the worst of this devastating storm. But it was enough for me to gauge the significant loss to the farmers of my native Redwood County.


NOTE: My apologies for the lack of flood images. But I am under strict orders from my ortho surgeon not to use my left hand as I recover from surgery on my broken left wrist. “Use it,” he said, “and you will be back in the OR.” I’ll listen, thank you.

© copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


10 Responses to “Back in Redwood County after July flash floods”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    The force of the water simply amazes me at times. I agree with you–I would not have the fortitude to be a farmer either. Around here the crops look fairly good despite our flooding but I suspect the planting was just at the right time and that the farmers gambled correctly this time.

  2. Murphy's Law Says:

    Glad you’re listening to your ortho surgeon so your wrist will heal properly. You paint such a vivid picture with your words that I can see the flood damage as I read. Very sad for everyone affected. I just hope these folks can get up and running again very soon.
    🔹 Ginger 🔹

  3. Almost Iowa Says:

    I can’t speak to southwest Minnesota, but looking at one of the original maps of Steele County (Owatonna) reveals that at least half the land was covered by swamp. Most of that has been drained and the land tiled (think perforated plastic hoses laid every sixty feet).

    The water that used to stay there has to go somewhere and the increased tiling means it has to go somewhere – faster – which in turn means when it all has to go somewhere faster, it all goes together.

    All that water is making its way down toward the Mississippi – and the Mississippi is already flooding.

  4. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    Heartbreaking! That’s ok rest you arm! There have been more than enough flooding pictures in the news lately!

  5. Jackie Says:

    I cant image having to depend on the weather for much of anything, just so unpredictable. I hope the farmers are able to recover what they’ve lost!

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