Officials: Albert Lea flood levels passed records set in 2004

Published 10:08 am Monday, September 26, 2016


ALBERT LEA —Fountain Lake rose to record levels on Friday — at least half a foot higher than previous records — before cresting later in the day, according to city officials.

“We are seeing some water levels higher than we have seen since at least 2004,” said Albert Lea City Engineer Steven Jahnke. “Those were the highest levels I had previously seen.”

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According to measurements taken by city staff, Fountain Lake elevation levels were as much as six feet higher than normal elevation levels by Friday night and some areas passed 100-year flood levels by at least one foot.

He said the water levels on Abbott Street have been about one foot higher than previously seen, and levels on the Fountain Lake side of the dam were at least a half a foot higher than the previous high levels in 2004.

Jahnke said on Saturday morning water levels had started to lower. In an email sent out to city leaders, he said all of the upstream ditches, with exception of Freeborn County Road 101, were within their banks. Water on Abbott Street remained well above levels seen in the past and had only gone down slightly from Friday afternoon. The rest of the locations on Fountain Lake went down about half a foot.

Jahnke said on Bridge Avenue, water is still coming out of the storm drains, but it is no longer coming over the banks. As of Saturday morning, there were still two locations on Abbott Street and Blackmer Avenue, where the sanitary sewer could not keep up, and the city still has pumps out.

Local officials gave U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, DFL-Minnesota, a tour of the area on Friday.

He thanked the professionalism of law enforcement and first responders in ensuring infrastructure is protected.

Flood mitigation measures, such as culvert installations, have lessened the flood’s effects on the area compared to the 2007 and 2010 floods, Walz said.

“I think that same model needs to hold true here,” he said, noting he expects Freeborn County to meet the minimum threshold for state funding standards.

Federal funding will depend on a statewide damage estimate, Walz said.

Austin’s flood waters crested below record flood levels late last week and flood waters are still receding. There is no rain in Austin’s forecast for this week, according to The National Weather Service.