After I blogged this morning’s update, the Council took a guided tour of the downtown flood area including some of the west side businesses and the Safety Center. The Northfield News provides some good illustrations of the damage. The standing water in Froggy Bottom’s lower level is stunning, but standing at close proximity to the river and seeing the speed and force of the water at close range was awful (a word which here means both “terrible” and “creating awe”). The extent of damage will reveal itself as the water recedes.
The 6 pm meeting followed the “usual” pattern: the Incident Commander, Chuck Walerius, Deputy Police Chief, in this shift, reviewed changes in the situation followed by reports from other members of the incident management team. Here are just a few highlights (see the News for a good summary of the meeting):
The question to which everyone seems to want a firm answer: how high is the water and has it crested? is still not firm. Incident Commander Walerius called it a “long crest.” The gauge at Northfield failed; gauges at Welch and Faribault are not entirely reliable, but estimates are made by interpolating data from the upstream and downstream gauges. The water is still going up in inches at Northfield, but has dropped significantly at Owatonna and Faribault. This forecasts that Northfield’s water will begin to fall soon, too.
Volunteers: No volunteers are needed at this moment. Because of the failed wastewater plants upstream, cleaning up sandbags and debris will be treated as dealing with hazardous waste. As a result, what tasks can be assigned to volunteers and what training and equipment those volunteers might need are still being examined.
Tonight’s task: devising a traffic plan for Monday morning. Because bridges will remain closed until a visual inspection can take place when water recedes, the incident response team will be planning for getting people into town for work and school on Monday including signs and directing traffic.
Rice County will be doing damage assessments and planning debris removal – all debris disposed of by the county. The county assessor will begin his “broad brush” property damage assessment tomorrow to be able to add this documentation to disaster declarations which are needed for state and federal aid.
Thank the law enforcement, National Guard and emergency personnel you may see – they have been working around the clock to keep the flood area safe and secure as well plan for clean up and other responses.