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Rising River Threatens Minn. Towns

June 24, 2002

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ADA, Minn. (AP) _ More rain fell Monday as weary residents watched to see if their newly reinforced dikes would hold against the second round of record flooding in two weeks on the Wild Rice River.

A neighborhood on the southwest side of Ada that was partially flooded two weeks ago remained dry on Monday, and no houses were believed to have been flooded in the town of about 1,800 residents, said Kevin Ruud, Norman County emergency manager.

Ruud said there is no official flood stage on the Wild Rice River in the northwest Minnesota town, but he said flooding begins when the Wild Rice reaches about 14 feet. The record crest set two weeks ago was 16.8 feet, ``and we’re above that now,″ he said.

About 25 miles upstream in Mahnomen, an estimated 19 houses and two businesses were flooded in the town of about 1,200 residents, Mahnomen County sheriff’s dispatcher Rhonda Walz said. But she said the river had apparently crested there and was receding slowly.

A house surrounded by water burned in Mahnomen on Monday because fire trucks couldn’t get through. The resident, 66-year-old Jack Hausner, escaped by walking to dry ground through chest-deep water after he fled in his boat but the boat propellor was damaged by scraping blacktop.

``You’ll never know the feeling to lose everything. ... Thank God everybody’s OK. That’s the main thing,″ Hausner said.

The cause of the fire was not immediately determined. Electricity to the house had been turned off the day before, authorities said

The river began its second rise in two weeks after 10 to 12 inches of rain fell Saturday night and early Sunday, washing out roads and submerging cropland. The National Weather Service said 1 to 1 1/2 inches more fell in the area early Monday.

On Sunday, Gov. Jesse Ventura activated 71 National Guard soldiers to help the communities.

Just over a week ago, President Bush declared Norman, Mahnomen and 11 other northwestern Minnesota counties a federal disaster area because of flooding caused by torrential rain that caused more than $370 million in damage.

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