From snowbanks to spring floods in 1965

Published 1:00 pm Wednesday, February 27, 2019

By Linda Evenson

Photos courtesy of Freeborn County Historical Museum

A combination of heavy snowfall followed by a burst of warm weather led to major flooding in April 1965. It had been a snowy March and the St. Patrick’s Day storm added to the total. Snow started to fall after midnight on March 17 and continued for the next 48 hours. High winds whipped the snow into large drifts. Schools were closed for three days. 

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In a span of three weeks, road crews went from clearing snow and drifts to trying to open streets covered by water or washed out due to flooding. By April 8, sandbags lined the side banks near the Bridge Avenue dam. Water rushed over the dam at a crest of 45 inches. The Albert Lea Tribune on April 8, 1965, suggested “Persons planning to drive Lakeview Boulevard all the way north, plan to travel by boat, or forget it.” Several families were evacuated from River Lane, Charles Street and the west end of Abbott Street. Businesses along East Main Street and Main Court experienced flood waters in their buildings.

By April 14, both Albert Lea Lake and Fountain Lake were receding. Fountain Lake dropped 10 inches in two days, and Albert Lea Lake was down about 6 inches.