Three weeks after heavy rain, Waterville is still recovering from flooding

Published 6:00 pm Wednesday, July 10, 2024

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By Cathy Wurzer and Chandra Colvin

Three weeks after heavy rains flooded dozens of Minnesota counties, parts of Waterville are still underwater.

Water levels in the small southern Minnesota city of about 1,680 people have dropped about 3 feet in the past week, but residents still find themselves grappling with sandbags and road closures. The town’s mayor says its streets are still lined with soggy furniture and lumber.

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“The amount of rain we received is just overwhelming,” said Mayor William Conlin.

Despite the challenges the city faces, Conlin says residents and volunteers have been working tirelessly towards recovery efforts.

“We’ve had a lot of nights that we’ve still been at it after midnight,” Conlin adds, “And we’ve definitely had 24/7 coverage on our water treatment plant for sanitary sewers. We’ve had pumps running and people manning these stations.”

Several streets are still inaccessible to Waterville residents, and other homes that were not in flooded areas are seeing foundation issues or have basements caving in from the large amount of rain.

Many homes outside of city limits are uninhabitable for the time being, including dwellings on Tetonka Lake and Sakatah Lake. The American Red Cross has been helping those with homes damaged by flooding and is also assessing damage to provide accurate counts to the city.

Outside organizations and volunteers have stepped in to help with recovery, including several trucking companies to help clean debris out of the city. Emergency management teams from both the city of Waterville and Le Sueur County have also been helping in the clean-up process.

Conlin says that progress has been made and is getting better with the efforts that everyone is making.