Archived Story

Flood recovery begins in New Richland

Published 1:44pm Friday, September 24, 2010

NEW RICHLAND — After an estimated 10 inches of rain washed through the town of New Richland, recovery efforts were in full force Friday morning.

According to Waseca County Sheriff Timothy Dann, sandbagging operations in New Richland were successful in protecting the New Richland Care Center.

Trucks, cars and other vehicles ford water Thursday afternoon on Minnesota Highway 30 in New Richland in front of the high school. -- Michelle Haacke/Albert Lea Tribune

Forty-eight residents were evacuated from the facility at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday due to rising water around the facility. It was reported that 12 were transported to Albert Lea and others to Waseca and Owatonna.

A tributary of Boot Creek flows through the city. The sandbagging was an effort to prevent water from the stream from doing damage to property.

At about 1:30 p.m on Thursday, New Richland fire personnel and other volunteers began sandbagging operations to try and protect the facility.

Waseca County Fire Chief Gary Conrath said over 400 volunteers — not including area fire personnel and equipment operators who also assisted in the operations — filled thousands of sandbags. Operations subsided around midnight.

“Our gratitude goes out to everyone who volunteered,” Dann said.

Waseca Sand & Gravel and James Brothers Trucking hauled an estimated 1,200 to 1,500 tons of sand from a Waseca Sand & Gravel location.

On Friday morning, Dann reported that water by the nursing home had gone down about 15 inches. He said at its highest levels, the ballpark just behind the facility was completely under water.

“That fence is 6 or 7 feet tall,” he said.

The New Richland Fire Department was busy pumping water out of the basement level locker room and wrestling room at New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva High School on Friday morning. Superintendent Kevin Wellen said the water had been up about three to four feet, and since pumping began, levels were down to about six inches.

“The community keeps just coming together as these things come up,” Wellen said. “The people just keep taking care one another.”

Although the school was closed Friday, according to Wellen, it was not because of the water in the school.

Water fills the basement of Trapper's Lanes on Thursday in New Richland. The owner had pumps working to get the water out. -- Michelle Haacke/Albert Lea Tribune

“The locker rooms are below the grade of the building, we could have school without those,” he said. “It was about accessibility to the building.”

Classes dismissed at 1:30 p.m. Thursday and remained closed on Friday because more than a foot of water rushed over Second Street in front of the school.

After early dismissal on Thursday, many of the students headed down to the sandbagging operations.

“I saw at least 40 to 50 students from fourth-graders up through 12th grade helping at any time of the day; they were coming and going so probably closer to 100 altogether,” Wellen said.

Dann reported that the Royal Villa apartment complex and many trailer homes were evacuated, and many homes were still underwater on Friday with substantial damage.

He said as of Friday morning, several city streets remained underwater and Minnesota Highway 13 north near the junction with Highway 30 remained closed.

Dann said at one point, he heard the city had received 9 1/2 to 10 inches of rain, but “there might have been more.”

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