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Minnesota National Guard
Breckenridge bands together in flood fight

Pawlenty urges more people to volunteer

See video and photos at wahpetondailynewscom

March 24, 2009

Minnesota Gov Tim Pawlenty applauded efforts by Breckenridge residents Monday as they banded together to fight a flood that hit home at the last minute

"It's the spirit of Minnesota to shine through during a challenging situation and pitch in," he said

On a late afternoon visit to town, Pawlenty urged more people to volunteer as the city scrambled to fight rising water that threatened various areas of Breckenridge, particularly along Eighth Street and Oak Street In a reference to flood funds for the city, he said the state "always rallies around areas impacted by natural disasters" After a brief meeting with city and county officials, Pawlenty was taken on a tour to view some of the areas hardest hit by flood damage Mayor Cliff Barth and City Attorney Tim Fox have been absent from flood proceedings due to long-planned vacations, but Vice Mayor Jeff Krueger said both have been contacted about the past few days' events Fox and Barth will return on Wednesday, but for now, Krueger said they've got everything covered

"We're basically taking information from the professionals and analyzing it and making decisions here," he said

Eighty percent of streets in Breckenridge were under water by 9 am Monday as nearly 200 students from Breckenridge were sent to sandbag along the dike on Oak Street School closed at 2 pm but students still kept arriving at the site

"We're still in a major sandbagging operation now at critical sites," said Wilkin County Engineer Tom Richels "That will be going on now for the next day or two"

By 6:20 pm, the Oak Street crew was finished but other volunteers were sandbagging along north Main Street near the Bois de Sioux Golf Course

Shortly before Pawlenty's visit at 4:30 pm, Richels said the Red River was expected to crest at 19 feet, including the half an inch of rain anticipated for the evening The US Army Corps of Engineers felt the city was "comfortable up to 20 feet and higher," said Richels

"Things are running very smoothly," said Richels, who had just returned from touring the southern end of the county "At this point, [problems in the south] seem to be manageable"

City and highway crews have been moving quickly to shut down county roads and generate pumps after the area received 232 inches of rainfall

At Breckenridge City Hall, Capt Chuck Moore of the Army National Guard said his battalion may be here until Thursday and likely head north after the need recedes here Forty members stationed at various parts of the city are monitoring dikes and water levels at every bridge in town

Hundreds of concerned citizens filed into the Breckenridge Senior Citizens Center Sunday night for an emergency flood meeting More than 100 county and township roads have already been damaged due to floodwater

Some of the highway department's concerns included the strength of the city's 18-foot deep diversion, but by Monday Richels said it was "ice free and couldn't be better"

However, crews are still finding patches of broken up ice in long stretches of the river Seventy-five percent of county ditches are still choked with ice, he said

"We don't mean to alarm you, but ice jams can cause water to jump 2 to 3 feet we hope you are prepared for that," said Richels

Public Works Director Jeff Muehler said staff were monitoring the city's sanitary and storm water systems, though he encouraged residents to plug any basement drains in the event the sewer system couldn't keep up with the floodwater

Jennifer Johnson "ยข Wahpeton Daily News

See video, photos, and read more at wahpetondailynewscom
Read the Minnesota National Guard press release.

March 24, 2009: "100 More National Guard Soldiers sent to Red River," StarTribune

March 24, 2009: "Lower projection on Red upstream may help Fargo," 5 EYEWITNESS News

March 24, 2009: "State offers flood assistance," Bemidji Pioneer

March 23, 2009: "Minnesota Soldiers help with battle against river," INFORUM, The forum of Fargo-Moorhead

March 23, 2009: "Minnesota Guard will help the fight," StarTribune

March 23, 2009: "Minnesota, N.D. Guard respond to Red River Valley flooding," National Guard Bureau

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