Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Flood aware: Keeping a watchful eye on rising rivers in Minnesota March 20, 2019

I shot this scene of the rising Cannon River near the iconic Faribault Woolen Mill shortly before sunset Monday.


WITH TWO RIVERS RUNNING through Faribault, a flooding concern always exists. We’ve had property-damaging floods here in the past. And now, with spring snow melt well underway, we’re all on alert.


The Faribault Woolen Mill dam is barely visible in this photo.


A close-up of the dam.


Likewise, a second dam by the entrance to North Alexander Park and the Rice County Fairgounds is also almost invisible.


Although the Cannon and Straight Rivers are high and have spilled from their banks in some areas, they aren’t threatening. Yet. Who knows what this week’s expected 50 to near 60-degree temps will bring?


The overflowing Cannon River edges Minnesota State Highway 3 at its intersection with Rice County Road 29 just north of Faribault.


Trees felled by a September 2018 tornado clog the rising Cannon River as seen in this view from the Rice County Road 29 bridge.


The Cannon River spills out of its banks at the intersection of Minnesota State Highway 3 and Rice County Road 29 on Monday evening. This is the main connecting highway between Faribault and Northfield.


I feel for the folks in Nebraska with the devastating floods there. I feel for the folks in the Fargo-Moorhead area now preparing for likely flooding. I feel for the folks in Jordan, Minnesota, some of whom already had to evacuate homes. I feel for the river communities of Northfield, Hastings, Stillwater, Red Wing, New Ulm… The list is lengthy of Minnesota cities that could face serious flooding. Some, including Northfield along the Cannon River and just to the north of Faribault, are in a flood warning issued by the National Weather Service. My home county of Redwood, through which the Redwood River runs, is also included in this warning for specific rivers (the Redwood, Cottonwood, Minnesota and Cannon rivers) in Minnesota.


While the snow pack has diminished significantly, snow remains to melt. I shot this photo west of Dundas around sunset Monday along Rice County Road 1.


For now, in Faribault, the issue is primarily flooded basements. I’ve talked to friends who’ve never had water in their basements. Until this year. We’re not talking just water seepage either. We’re also talking backed up septic systems. We’ve had minor issues in our house, too.


Water floods a low lying area along Interstate 35 somewhere between the south metro and Faribault. Photo taken late Saturday afternoon.


But we’ll get through this. We always do.

TELL ME: Have you experienced any flooding or water-related issues in your community or home? Or are you prepping for such a possibility?

© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


12 Responses to “Flood aware: Keeping a watchful eye on rising rivers in Minnesota”

  1. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    Stay safe! I have a feeling it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better

  2. I’ve only had minor experiences with flooding. Nothing like what is happening in the Midwest. Stay safe Audrey!

  3. Almost Iowa Says:

    Pity those Minnesota River towns. They always seem to get it the worst.

  4. Valerie Says:

    I think Northfiled is expecting flooding. I’ve done sandbagging before – it’s hard work.

  5. Flooding is certainly a concern this year with record breaking snow totals and now warm weather to promote melting in the days to come. Rochester had the big flood of 1978, I remember it like it was yesterday. Because of that flood, much was done in the city to prevent the chances of a big flood again. So far so good. As usual there will be basements flooding due to many factors. We have been in our house for 31 years and never even had a drop of water in our lower level (did I just jinx myself) both homes on each side of us have had major basement flooding. I’m counting my blessings.

    • Randy lived in Rochester at the time of that flood. He remembers it like it was yesterday also.

      I’m thankful you don’t have water in your house. But I feel for your neighbors and everyone else dealing with basement flooding.

  6. Littlesundog Says:

    My family in Nebraska speaks daily of the rising waters there. Some communities are completely closed off and many have lost entire roadways to their villages. My family is fine, but all agree that it’s quite depressing to see the damage and death that has resulted from the flooding.

    • I’ve been thinking of your family, wondering if they were OK. Thank you for sharing that they are. But, oh, the devastation in Nebraska, from the news footage I’ve seen, is incredible. My heart goes out to your home state. My prayers, too.

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