Wadena Mayor George Deiss declared a local emergency Friday in response to the potential of flooding. On Monday March 25, A special city council meeting will be held to consider a resolution to extend the Local Emergency Declaration.
Due to a quick thaw, a record amount of snow receded. Additionally, heavy rains made matters even worse. Water has filled the streams, lakes, waterways and increased the risk for flooding in Wadena County. After the county declared a state of emergency Deiss followed suit. His administration can hold an emergency declaration for three days. An additional meeting is required to extend the declaration in addition to being eligible for federal funding.
"Better to be safe than sorry," Deiss said.
Wadena is no stranger to flooding. In July 2014 waters rose because of heavy rains and overly saturated soil. The event was destructive and earned a great deal of news coverage at the time. The flooding was so bad that government intervention was necessary to provide relief. Current conditions have some on edge creating an atmosphere of nervous preparation. Currently, there isn't much to do except spread awareness and information. Wadena has the people and the sandbags, now they're waiting for the triggering moment when city and citizens must help each other to combat the rising tide.
Deiss spoke openly about the risk of flooding and was most concerned about the south western part of town. According to Deiss, that area has old storm drains that don't work quite as well as others in town.
Dan Kovar, Public Works Director further discussed the drainage in the town and how his department handles instances of flooding. The Wadena Public Works department is equipped with large discharge pumps that can drain flooded areas. A tactic Kovar admits, isn't always the best strategy because simply moving the water isn't always a great solution to flooding. Recently his team had to drain water on Colfax Avenue. While draining, they did have to close down the sidewalk for a few days. In the past they have assisted in constructing earth dykes to stave off the water. They did this during the 2014 flood.
The public works department also has the constant job of monitoring and maintaining the storm sewer system in Wadena. There hasn't been many issues in terms of drainage at the moment. Kovar and his team have been moving a lot of ice which can clog the storm sewer if left on check. They've also had to thaw and jet some portions of the drainage system to keep it from clogging.
Kovar was most concerned about the southwestern part of town much like the Mayor. The area near Tapley Park has seen the most issues because it isn't equipped with a sufficient storm sewer. That area is always closely monitored by his department. "Southwest in general gets affected first and hit the hardest," Kovar said.
In response to the increased risk of flooding the Wadena County Sheriff's Department released information about flooding and the danger it poses to businesses and residents. The Sheriff's department wants all residents to be aware of the risk so they included details about flood insurance. The quick thaw and rainy conditions bring rising waters. The time to explore flood insurance is quickly fading. Most of these policies take around 30 days to go into effect so don't wait until the last minute to acquire insurance.
According to the MN Department of Safety, Homeland Security and Emergency Management, around 25 percent of flood insurance claims occur outside areas of heightened risk. Law enforcement urges everyone to prepare now. Gather supplies and people. The more effort expended now will only lessen the impact of actual flooding. Have those sandbags on hand and a few extra set of hands to fill them. Finding temporary storage could also go a long way in protecting property.
The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota recognized the threat of flooding and the strain it puts on victims, especially in regard to insurance and repair after the water has dispersed. They offer some simple tips for dealing with water damage.
• Determine if your insurance policy covers flood damage.
• Plan and research prior to making any permanent repairs.
• Get multiple estimates with detailed breakdowns of work to be completed.
• Everything should be submitted in writing for renovations and repairs.
• Always ask for proof of liability, workers compensation, and appropriate licensing.
The Sheriffs office would also like to remind everyone not to risk travel on flooded roads. Just turn around. If the road has been washed out, a vehicle could easily be swept away. Flooding in combination with poor decisions can be life threatening.