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Minnesota Town Battles Flood, Rain

June 12, 2002

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ROSEAU, Minn. (AP) _ Hundreds of volunteers and National Guard members worked feverishly to protect this town from the rushing waters of the Roseau River as residents braced for even more rain.

The river was expected to crest Wednesday in the community of 2,500 people about 10 miles south of the Canadian border. The forecast called for rain through early Wednesday on top of the 5 to 12 inches the area has received since the weekend.

``We’re having the flood of our lives here,″ Mayor Jeff Pelowski said.

Water was knee-deep in many streets and nearly every yard east of the river had some standing water Tuesday, hours after a sandbag dike broke.

All over town, all-terrain vehicles pulled trailers full of sandbags. Volunteers in waders sandbagged and looked for potential trouble spots.

Police asked for voluntary evacuations, although a handful of people were ordered to leave because of their proximity to floodwaters, said officer Jeff Klein.

Bryan Lundgren, up to his ankles in water in his front yard, said he would stay with his one-story house until the water crept inside.

``If we get any more rain, I don’t know what I can do. Let it take its toll, I guess,″ Lundgren said.

The river was at about 23 feet early Wednesday and the National Weather Service projected a crest of 23.5 feet. Flood stage is at 16 feet, and the city is protected by a levee system up to about 22 feet.

Gov. Jesse Ventura ordered the National Guard to render assistance to the nine surrounding counties in northwestern Minnesota. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sent water pumps, engineers and 80,000 sandbags to the area.

The situation was better in Warroad _ 20 miles east of Roseau _ where the Warroad River went over its banks Monday but started receding early Tuesday, Police Chief Laurence Wright said.

About 20 households were evacuated. Some businesses were still closed due to water damage, but more than half were open again Tuesday, the police chief said.

``I’ve talked to a teacher that’s been here 53 years and this is worst flooding she’s ever seen,″ Wright said.

In Kansas, severe storms unleashed heavy rains and damaging winds across sections of the central part of the state on Tuesday. The town of McPherson reported as much as 2 feet of standing water in spots, authorities said.

In southeastern Manitoba, floods left one community under water after a bridge washed out. Dozens of residents in Sprague, near the Minnesota border, had to leave town in boats as the flooding worsened.

``Everything is under water,″ said Jean Delorme, who fled with her elderly mother-in-law.

``The store, the credit union, the hotel, all the people along the river, the restaurant. Everything is under water. It is unbelievable.″

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