Current flood information


The river has now crested at 17 feet and will begin to slowly recede according to Humboldt County Emergency Management Director Kyle Bissell during a meeting held at the EMA building Thursday, June 27.
The meeting included reports from Bissell, City Administrator, Cole Bockelmann; Humboldt Police Chief, Joel Sanders; Humboldt County Sheriff, Dean Kruger, Economic Development Director, Alissa O’Connor; and Humboldt County Memorial Hospital Administrator, Michelle Sleiter.

Bissell stated according to the National Weather Service, the river crested at 17 feet and is now slowly beginning to recede. It is predicted that it will be at 16.9 feet by 7 p.m. and 16.7 by 1 a.m. and then continue to decrease during the next several days.

“We will still be in the major flood stage which is 14 feet, and we won’t fall below that 14 feet until Wednesday the 3rd,” Bissell said.

Bissell stated they are keeping an eye on the river levels north of Humboldt; any change in the levels will directly affect Humboldt County. Rain has been forecasted in communities such as Emmetsburg and Estherville which impacts Humboldt’s flooding. The amount of rain is not expected to be more than an inch in those areas.

“Those levels should not have any impact on us but we are going to keep our eye on those.

All official sandbagging operations have stopped, however, there are still sandbags and sand still available in both Bradgate and Humboldt. Bissell, Police Chief Joel Sanders and Sheriff Dean Kruger thanked the public for stepping up to work tirelessly to protect the land and people in Humboldt. Sanders and Kruger thanked the public for all their assistance but reiterated that it is so important at this time to stay away from those areas that are still flooded. Bockelmann reported that there are still roads closed due to flooding.

“15th Street North will remain closed (road by the dam)-that will probably one of our longer closed roads; at least until the river level comes down a foot or so,” Bockelmann said. May Street also remains closed as it is still completely under water.

The other area hit hard is the south part of town by the Recycling Center. Bockelmann reported that they had to rebuild the berm in that area several times as the waters rose, and the increasing pressure pushed on the wall.

“We have had people be in the way and interfere with the work there, so we have had hard closures on the streets there so please respect those barricades and do not go down there,” Bockelmann said. He also reported that the wastewater facilities are still in good shape even though the use has increased significantly. “We have no known wastewater backups so that is good news. I think the conservation efforts are working,” Bockelmann said.

Right now, the main thing they are watching is the ground water levels which have a direct impact on the system. For the time being, Bockelmann encourages everyone to continue water conservation efforts. While the river levels remain high, Humboldt law enforcement requests that citizens stay away from the flooded areas and practice safety.

“Stay out of the open water. Some people are driving through, not only damaging their vehicles, but damaging the property they are driving on. Stay out of the open water,” Sanders said. Anyone caught driving through these areas are subject to being stopped and cited. They are also asking for everyone to stay away from the shoreline of the river. Sanders warned that it would be impossible to get resources to anyone in the water before they would be swept away.

“I realize it’s a very interesting thing to see, it’s unique to watch the river flow as fast as it’s flowing but watch it from a distance,” Sanders said.

“Stay out of the water. Even if it looks kind of calm, there could still be a strong current underneath,” Kruger said.

“Use your head and stay out of the water. Even if you don’t get swept away there could be contaminates,” Kruger concluded.

That is an area that HCMH administrator Michelle Sleiter reiterated. Much of the water has contaminates in it and people need to be careful, especially if they have open sores.“This is an important time to make sure you are up-to-date on your immunizations. You can either call the clinic or find that information on their website portal. She wanted to reassure residents they are still open and operational. However, if that should change, Sleiter has a contingency plan in place to operate in another location.

While most of the emphasis has been placed on physical aspects of health during the flood, Sleiter wanted to be sure to remind those affected by the flood or participating in the flood efforts should keep an eye on their mental health and reach out if they need to.

“We have learned from other communities that (mental health) is what comes second after flooding so please know we are here for you,” Sleiter said.

As clean-up efforts begin, Sleiter wants everyone to remember there are proper ways to clean including using a lot of bleach and making sure damaged items are disposed of properly.

“There is a right way to do it and disinfecting is really important and that comes with bleach” Sleiter said.HCMH will be putting information on the website regarding the correct sanitary procedures.

O’Connor commended the businesses who stepped up to help with the sandbagging and berm creation efforts. She also reported there are several businesses still closed either due to flood waters reaching their building or due to power and gas being shut off ahead of the flooding. O’Connor warned that it may be a week or more before some businesses are able to open.

“I know you are anxious to open but I want you to heed the warning from the EMA Director. We are watching the weather north of us and we are still in a major flood stage and will be until about Tuesday or Wednesday,” O’Connor said. She encouraged businesses to remove sandbags from only those areas needed for entrance into the building until we are sure the waters have receded.

Be sure to continue to tune in to your local media outlets to keep up-to-date on the latest information as the flood waters recede and clean up efforts begin.

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