Officials: Water levels passed records set in 2004

Published 4:43 pm Saturday, September 24, 2016

Fountain Lake rose to record levels on Friday — at least half a foot higher than previous records — before cresting later in the day, according to city officials.

“We are seeing some water levels higher than we have seen since at least 2004,” said Albert Lea City Engineer Steven Jahnke. “Those were the highest levels I had previously seen.”

According to measurements taken by city staff, Fountain Lake elevation levels were as much as six feet higher than normal elevation 

Email newsletter signup

levels by Friday night and some areas passed 100-year flood levels by at least one foot. 

He said the water levels on Abbott Street have been about one foot higher than previously seen, and levels on the Fountain Lake side of the dam were at least a half a foot higher than the previous high levels in 2004.

Jahnke said on Saturday morning water levels had started to lower. In an email sent out to city leaders, he said all of the upstream ditches, with exception of Freeborn County Road 101, were within their banks. Water on Abbott Street remained well above levels seen in the past and had only gone down slightly from Friday afternoon. The rest of the locations on Fountain Lake went down about half a foot.

Jahnke said on Bridge Avenue, water is still coming out of the storm drains, but it is no longer coming over the banks. As of Saturday morning, there were still two locations on Abbott Street and Blackmer Avenue, where the sanitary sewer could not keep up, and the city still has pumps out.

The following roads were closed Friday. It is unclear if they were still closed as of press time:

  • Main Street between Garfield and Newton avenues. The section is expected to be closed until midweek.
  • Lincoln Avenue between Commercial Street and Ninth Street
  • Wedgewood Road
  • Lakeview Boulevard between The Fairway and Martin Road
  • Edgewater Drive
  • Freeborn County Road 101 between Minnesota Highway 13 and Edgewater Drive
  • The intersection of Pearl Street and Elizabeth Avenue
  • Elmira Street from Stanley Avenue to Blackmer Avenue
  • Local officials gave U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, DFL-Minnesota, a tour of the area on Friday.

He thanked the professionalism of law enforcement and first responders in ensuring infrastructure is protected.

Flood mitigation measures, such as culvert installations, have lessened the flood’s effects on the area compared to the 2007 and 2010 floods, Walz said.

“I think that same model needs to hold true here,” he said, noting he expects Freeborn County to meet the minimum threshold for state funding standards.

Federal funding will depend on a statewide damage estimate, Walz said.

County officials have advised residents who have experienced flood-related damage to call 507-373-3965 or email Anyone calling is advised to provide a name, address, phone number, number of occupants in the home, items damaged and their approximate value. Anyone who needs flood cleanup or well-testing kits is advised to contact the number.

County officials are also advising:

  • Reporting areas with water on the road
  • Not allowing children to play or be in water, which may contain debris
  • Emergency response vehicles may be slow in their response time to incidents
  • Being aware of possible basement collapse if water is removed at too rapid of a pace

Albert Lea City Manager Chad Adams said the city had to bypass its sanitary sewer lines almost immediately into Albert Lea Lake once the storm began because of the amount of water in the system. He strongly encouraged residents not to be in any standing water.

He also advised residents to continue to limit their water usage through the weekend.

Related Stories

Storm dumps rain on Albert Lea, brings flooded streets, click here

Freeborn County commissioners declare state of emergency, click here.

New Richland community come together after devastation from flood, click here

Multiple Albert Lea roads closed after flooding, click here

Albert Lea flood damage visible from air, click here.