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Minnesota officials warn residents that dam is facing ‘imminent failure’

Minnesota officials warn residents that dam is facing ‘imminent failure’

A key dam in Minnesota is facing “imminent failure” on Monday after severe flooding hit the region.

The Rapidan Dam in Blue Earth County, Minnesota is breaking down as rushing waters sweep debris into the 114-year-old structure. Debris began accumulating at the dam on Sunday, the Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Office said. The swollen Blue Earth River is also cutting through the west side of the dam, officials said.

As of Monday morning, the dam is still intact but is in “imminent failure condition.”

“We do not know if it will totally fail or if it will remain in place, however we determined it was necessary to issue this notification to advise downstream residents and the correct regulatory agencies and other local agencies,” the sheriff’s office wrote on Facebook on Monday.

Nearby residents who are in immediate danger have been notified, officials said, but there is no evacuation order in place for the county. The dam is near the city of Mankato, about 90 minutes from Minneapolis, and home to some 45,000 people. Blue Earth County has nearly 70,000 residents in total.

The Rapidan Dam, pictured, is in ‘imminent failure condition’ on Monday as rushing waters and debris build up
The Rapidan Dam, pictured, is in ‘imminent failure condition’ on Monday as rushing waters and debris build up (KARE11)

On social media, residents were reacting to the news.

“My sister’s home is across the street from Sanger pit and needs a boat to get out of her house,” one user commented. Sanger Pit is a nearby park, located just northeast of the dam. Another user said they hoped emergency crews would rescue animals from nearby Sibley Park.

Several residents have lost power, which crews are working to restore while some bridges across the river have also been closed.

Governor Tim Walz said the dam’s structural integrity “has been a question for a long time.”

“The removal of the dam has been a question that’s been up there,” Walz told reporters on Monday, according to Fox9.

Authorities say the Rapidan Dam, pictured, is still “intact” as of Monday morning.
Authorities say the Rapidan Dam, pictured, is still “intact” as of Monday morning. (KARE11)

Heavy rain leading to severe flooding across southern Minnesota left “entire communities under feet of water” Walz said on Saturday.

“Across the state, intense rain has had catastrophic effects. Flooding has left entire communities under feet of water, causing severe damage to property and numerous road closures,” Walz said.

The governor mobilized the state’s National Guard on Sunday as flooding continued.

In Madelia, a southern Minnesota town, sewage-filled flood waters swept through several neighborhoods over the weekend. Residents said they had to band together to save each other and their homes.

“This is a wonderful community, community of work and friends and family and everything, so people of lots of different areas, Mankato, everywhere have been coming,” resident Terri Baumgartener told local outlet KEYC.

“We noticed a little bit on the back of the yard yesterday morning,” said Baumgartener continued. “We had family watching the house for us during the day, and then between 7 and 9, it just shot up.”

“The water I’m told went up three-quarters of an inch in the last hour, and we’re hoping and praying it starts to go down at some point.”

Much of the midwest is underwater on Monday. One person is dead in South Dakota, though Governor Kristi Noem has yet to release any details, citing the family’s privacy. Meanwhile, flooding has also destroyed businesses, healthcare facilities and homes in Iowa, said Governor Kim Reynolds, who declared a state of emergency in 21 counties.

“Businesses are shuttered. Main streets have been impacted,” Reynolds said. “Hospitals, nursing homes and other care facilities were evacuated. Cities are without power, and some are without drinkable water.”


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