CANNON FALLS, Minn. - The Cannon River is dropping steadily after serious flooding triggered by overnight torrential rains.
Public Safety officials say as of 6 a.m. Friday the waters crested above the levels experienced during the destructive flood of September 2010 flood, but by 4 p.m. they dropped to 37 inches below crest level.
National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Griesinger says 8.4 inches of rain fell Thursday, pushing the Little Cannon River, which feeds the Cannon River, to a crest of 20.4 feet at about 5 a.m. Friday. That breaks the record of 16.5 feet from September 2010.
Firefighters led evacuations for about a dozen homeowners and helped with sandbagging efforts at several homes. Cannon Falls Mayor Robby Robinson says only one homeowner had significant water damage in their basement. Robinson says he also had some water damage to his own basement.
"We will get past this, this community comes together, there was a little water damage at one the alternative schools, we got a text saying they needed help getting water out of the building, a bunch of us came together and got it done. This town will pull together and get through,"said Robinson.
Dakota County tried to manage the danger upstream at the Lake Byllesby dam, by operating it at full capacity this morning. Officials checking on the dam levels call it a ten year flood event, and closed the boat launch because of flooded docks.
Homeowners on Lake Byllesby say the high waters are a rare occurrence. The Aladdin family scrambled to remove their pontoon, for fear it could float away.
"Or else, because I don't think its done coming up. From upstream you will continue to get more and more water, they can only discharge so much at a time without flooding out Cannon Falls," said Alladin, who said the only other time he had to remove his boat from the lake was back in September of 2010.
Mn/DOT shut down Highway 20 due to water covering the roadway, but reopened it around 11 a.m.
Cannon Falls Police Chief Jeff McCormick says a foot bridge will also have to be replaced after the footings washed away. He says it's too early to tell the extent of the damage until the water recedes, and emergency management officials can't yet put a price tag on the devastation.
"Certainly, Cannon Falls has experienced flooding many times- but this is probably the highest water level in at least a dozen years. Most of our spring floods are never this large. They rarely get even much out of the banks - this is significantly out of the banks," said Chief McCormick.
The floods derailed a lot of weekend plans, closing the Welch Mill Canoeing and Tubing for weeks. The Nature Valley Grand Prix bike race scheduled in Cannon Falls Friday was canceled, according to the Mayor.
Canon Falls Canoe Rental downtown lost two dozen canoes in the high waters.
The Salvation Army is providing storm clean up kits at the local fire department in Cannon Falls, as well as in the community of Welch.
Mayor Robinson says he will be contacting FEMA about the damage in the local park.
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