Torrential rain in Fillmore County Saturday damages area roads, crops


The rain wouldn’t stop Saturday, causing damage to County Road 15 south of 120th Street, which is west of Harmony. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Water pools in an area off of County Road 22 between Harmony and the junction with County Road 15. SUBMITTED PHOTO
By : 
DAVID PHILLIPS
Bluff Country Newspaper Group

Torrential rain innudated the area Saturday, June 9, as up to six inches was confirmed in some Fillmore County communities by the National Weather Service with unconfirmed reports by local residents of eight inches, leading to damaged roads, drowned cattle, washed out cropland, flooded basements and other destruction.

The potential for minor to moderate flooding along some rivers continued in southeastern Minnesota and northeastern Iowa early this week, according to the National Weather Service, as rain was predicted for Monday, although that was exepcted to be followed by several days of dry weather. The rain Saturday was spotty with widely varying amounts reported in area communities.

The minor to moderate flooding began late Saturday after heavy rain fell in the afternoon, continued into the evening and finally ended in the early morning hours on Sunday. Some rivers kept rising Sunday due to the heavy rainfall the day before, atlhough the main damage appeared to come from pooled water in lower areas that couldn’t drain fast enough to keep up with the downpours.

The Root River near Preston rose to just below flood level early Sunday morning, according to the NWS.

The torrential rain Saturday caused the Fillmore County Sheriff’s Office to issue a warning to motorists about flooded roadways throughout Fillmore County.

“We are urging our citizens and people traveling in and through Fillmore County to use extreme caution, especially in low lying areas that have rivers or creeks or the potential of water flow,” said Sheriff Tom Kaase Saturday evening.

Initially, the areas most affected were west of Preston and south of Stewartville in the Spring Valley,Wykoff and Ostrander areas where some areas had six inches of rain fall in the afternoon and evening with more coming later that night. Several roads around Wykoff and in Forestville Township were under water or damaged by the rain. County 8 about five miles east of Spring Valley was one road that had areas wash out from the volume of rain.

However, the southeastern part of the county was also affected, receiving up to five inches of rain. Highway 43 north of Mabel was reported to have water over the roadway Saturday evening. Roads west of Harmony also had water over them or received damage from encroaching water.

Fillmore County emergency manager Don Kullot had been out in the field Saturday to assess the situation in the county, and the warning was issued shortly after 8 p.m. The biggest blast was from 3 to 7 p.m. in many areas of the county.

At one time Saturday evening, a Fillmore County deputy was stranded between County Road 30 and Klondike Road southwest of Harmony, moving to higher ground before finding a way out. It was easier to see the water over roadways during the daylight, but with darkness coming, Kaase issued the warning Saturday night, asking that motorists use caution.

In addition to flooding on area roads, many residents had water in their basements or flooding on their property after the rain on Saturday.

One farm north of Wykoff owned by Harlan, Jim and Darvin Schmidt lost several calves that were in the pasture along the creek. Some of them drowned in the high water and as of Monday morning others were still missing.

Also, recently-planted crops in Forestville Township were washed out and Wykoff city officials issued a warning to residents Saturday night to limit water and sewage use for a brief time after the wastewater treatment plant was temporarily flooded.

The National Weather Service noted Sunday that after a couple days of spotty heavy rain from thunderstorms, the area was hit harder on Saturday, June 9, from a large, dangerous storm that moved into northern Iowa, which had the most severe damage, followed by lines and waves of strong to severe thunderstorms.

Some of the initial storms produced large hail and damaging wind, although no reports came from Fillmore County. The storms had a tornado threat with them, noted the NWS, but then storms transitioned more into strong wind producers and dropped very heavy rain over parts of the region.

The hardest hit areas were from far southern Minnesota, across northeast Iowa, into southwest Wisconsin.