Socked, swamped … soaked

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 15, 2001

Hartland-area farmer Greg Recknor is watching his fields fill with rain water and wondering how much more rain is on the horizon.

Friday, June 15, 2001

Hartland-area farmer Greg Recknor is watching his fields fill with rain water and wondering how much more rain is on the horizon. He said the challenge is to keep his mind occupied with other things.

Email newsletter signup

&uot;I can’t even go golfing. I understand most courses are closed from standing water,&uot; he said.

Like many farmers in the region, Recknor has battled heavy rains all spring. He recently finished planting his soybeans and now wonders how much of his crop will drown. On Thursday he estimated 15 percent of his cropland was underwater.

&uot;I think we were about 90-percent saturated before these (Thursday morning) rains. It’ll be a couple of weeks before things will dry out,&uot; Recknor said.

According to KIMT TV meteorologist Paula Libertowski, Albert Lea has reached its average rainfall for the rainy season of April, May and June. About 12 inches is normal for those months, she said. About six inches of rain has fallen in June alone.

&uot;I think your recent rainstorms probably pushed you over the average,&uot; Libertowski said. &uot;Since more rain is on the way, Albert Lea is having a very wet spring.&uot;

While the water of Fountain Lake approaches all-time highs, Gary Jacobsen is telling people to get their boats off the lake as soon as possible. Jacobsen, the water patrol officer for the sheriff’s department, said he has never seen the lake so high.

&uot;I’m seeing turned over docks, and boats are floating around still on their lifts. People need to get out there and take care of their boats because the water is still rising,&uot; Jacobsen said.

With Thursday night’s rain and more forecast for the weekend, coupled with the high winds, Jacobsen said boat owners need to remove canopies from lifts, pull in their boats and wait for at least a week for lake levels to drop.

&uot;I wouldn’t expect to water-ski anytime soon. This just isn’t normal,&uot; he said.

The Pelican Breeze pontoon boat has also canceled all its planned weekend cruises due to high water on Albert Lea Lake.

Motorists are also seeing high waters on roadways around Albert Lea. City Engineer Dave Olson said several city streets were blockaded this week, including East Main Street near Godfather’s Pizza, Lakeview Boulevard at Willamor Road, Front Street behind Rainbow Foods and the south end of Wedgewood Road. Workers sandbagged the dam area Wednesday and operated 14 pumps across the

Thursday to relieve pressure on the wastewater system.

&uot;We’re running at full capacity at the lift stations and at the wastewater treatment plant. We’ve had crews out all night Wednesday and Thursday keeping an eye on things,&uot; Olson said.

Albert Lea residents can aid the city’s efforts by discharging sump pumps into the storm sewer system instead of the wastewater system, Olson said.

&uot;That can really make a big difference. If you look at the amount of water coming out of those pumps times the number of sump pumps in the city, you’re talking about a lot of water,&uot; he said.

While some people battle water in basements, others are concerned about too much water on lawns and gardens. Brad Wedge of Wedge Nursery said too much rain can deny gardens the sunshine and oxygen they need. Insects and weeds also flourish in the damp conditions.

&uot;Plants, especially in the vegetable gardens, are under a lot of stress right now. But if we could get four or five days of sunshine, things could snap right back,&uot; Wedge said.

Though the heavy rains can be tough on gardens, Wedge said it’s not at a critical point yet.

&uot;I wouldn’t tell people to hit the panic button yet,&uot; he said. &uot;With Minnesota weather, we could see drought conditions in a month. You never know.&uot;

Other events canceled this weekend because of the high water include lakeshore cleanup in Albert Lea and Farming of Yesteryear activities in Kiester.