Water recedes in Cannon Falls

Published 3:16 pm Saturday, June 16, 2012

CANNON FALLS — Water receded in Cannon Falls on Friday, and officials were cautiously optimistic the worst was over after heavy rains sent the Cannon River and the Little Cannon River over their banks earlier in the day and prompted a voluntary evacuation of about two dozen homes.

Police Chief Jeff McCormick lifted the evacuation recommendation by Friday afternoon, but cautioned onlookers and residents to stay away from the river.

“Don’t go into the water. Even though it may look calm on the surface, it is moving very, very swiftly,” he said. If people fell in, “they would be swept away without a second chance to try to grab something.”

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National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Griesinger said the Little Cannon River crested at 20.4 feet early Friday, breaking its record of 16.5 feet set in September 2010. The Cannon River was expected to reach a near-record 15 feet that morning, he said, after 8.8 inches of rain fell Thursday in Cannon Falls.

Other rainfall totals include 7.1 inches near Northfield, 6.5 inches near Red Wing and 6 inches near Dundas.

The water levels went down during the day, but McCormick was concerned about more rain in the forecast. Minnesota’s forecast calls for a chance of showers and thunderstorms daily into next week.

One home in Cannon Falls had a flooded basement, and about two dozen canoes floated away from a canoe rental shop. McCormick said water also damaged the roof of a community center and computer labs at Cannon Falls High School.

Wind from Thursday’s storms also did damage, with the worst of it seemingly in southern Goodhue County, near the areas of Kenyon Township, Cherry Grove Township and Wanamingo. Area officials reported a handful of barns and sheds were blown over by winds ranging from 60 to 80 mph.

Griesinger said officials weren’t sure if the damage was caused by a tornado or straight-line winds, but he said a tornado was less likely. He said the storm system lifted hail and rain into the atmosphere, and “when all that came crashing down, it brought some wind with it too.”

There were no official reports of injuries.

Diane Richter, the emergency management director in Goodhue County, said other parts of the county saw washed-out roads and there were numerous power outages.

“We have our fingers crossed that there won’t be much more rain coming in this direction,” she said. “Roads might be shut down for a long time because of debris.”