‘A nightmare’

Lyon County issues disaster declaration for flooding

Photo by Mike Lamb Rushing floodwaters on Tuesday tore into Lyon County Road 5 outside Lynd, creating a big gaping hole.

MARSHALL — Tuesday’s weather event dumped several inches of rain on southwest Minnesota. While some of the most severe damage was reported in communities like Tracy, the effects of the rain were felt in Marshall and across Lyon County.

The Lyon County Board declared a state of emergency on Tuesday morning due to flooding and damage caused by storm runoff. Several road closures were in place Tuesday, and Lyon County Road 5 was washed out near Lynd.

The Lyon County Sheriff’s Department also issued no-wake zone orders for Cottonwood Lake, Rock Lake and School Grove Lake on Tuesday. The orders will be enforced until water levels in the lakes recede to normal. Sgt. Todd Roelfsema of the Sheriff’s Department said no wake is advised for all lakes in Lyon County until water levels return to normal.

Southwest Minnesota received high amounts of rain early Tuesday morning. Philip Schumacher, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Sioux Falls, said Marshall had received 4.71 inches of rain by 8 a.m. Tuesday. Ghent received 6.5 inches. Lynd received 3.5 inches of rain by 6:30 a.m. Russell had received 2.22 inches of rain by 7:30 a.m.

The area around Currie, already hard hit by rainfall and flooding, received an additional 8.6 inches of rain by 10:33 a.m. Tuesday, Schumacher said.

By Wednesday, area highways were mostly dry again, but flood warnings were still in effect for the Redwood River in Russell and Marshall, and for the West Fork of the Des Moines River near Avoca.

At Tuesday’s Lyon County Board meeting, county emergency manager Tammy VanOverbeke said she was receiving reports of flooding from around the county.

“Tracy is having huge problems,” VanOverbeke said.

In Marshall, the Redwood River diversion channel was backing up in one area. The cities of Ghent and Cottonwood were sandbagging, VanOverbeke said. The cities of Lynd and Russell were ordering sump pumps from MnWARN, a statewide water agency response network, to help with clearing floodwater. The city of Garvin was also pumping water through its lift station, VanOverbeke said.

In Marshall, heavy rains swamped streets, flooded retention ponds and led to wet basements around town. But in spite of all those conditions, city flood control systems were working as intended, said Marshall Mayor Bob Byrnes.

“Our systems are all working,” Byrnes said, although he urged residents to cut back on water usage for 12 to 24 hours. Doing so would help the city wastewater plant deal with extra stormwater flow.

Marshall got a lot of rain in a very short period of time, Byrnes said, so at first the city’s stormwater systems couldn’t handle all of it.

“We had significant street flooding” at first, Byrnes said, and retention ponds in Marshall were been full to overflowing. However, the city’s stormwater, wastewater and flood control systems all worked as intended, he said.

Byrnes said the city had some power outages Tuesday morning, including a brief outage at the water treatment plant. The outages were resolved by around 8 a.m. Meanwhile, the wastewater treatment plant was dealing with “a very heavy load” — two or three times the normal flow, he said. Some of that extra water was coming from stormwater, and some from sump pumps improperly discharging into the sanitary sewer.

The Redwood River was above flood stage after the rains, at 17.3 feet, Byrnes said. However, he said Marshall’s flood control systems were also containing the water.

Byrnes said there were a small number of reports of sewage backups in basements, and “many more that have wet basements.” Both the Marshall Fire Department and Marshall Police Department worked to help people with stranded vehicles.