Sails must go on
WORTHINGTON — A watery weather event dumped a definite downer on some weekend activities of the Worthington Windsurfing Regatta and Unvarnished Music Festival, but positive attitudes and plenty of “Plan B’s” kept many scheduled events on course despite the rain.
And with the area in the midst of low wells and non-essential water bans, it was hard for festival organizers to complain too much about the rainfall.
“It would have been easier without the rain, and we feel bad for the art and food vendors and we’ll really miss the income from the beer garden, but we have wonderful volunteers who are helping things go as smoothly as we can expect them to,” said Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Darlene Macklin Saturday afternoon.
“We’re coping, but of course it’s disappointing the rain decided to fall today,” said Ken Moser, president of the Worthington Windsurfing Regatta board.
“There’s been additional work in finding alternative location for some things, but the quick response and support of the community has been most welcome.”
In particular, Moser praised BenLee’s Café owner Dave Hartzler for opening his business for musical performances and meals.
“We’re very thankful for that, and for all who worked together,” Moser continued. “But we need the moisture, even though it’s not as ideal for the spectators, music, vendors and participants.”
While the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, S.D., reported a precipitation total of 2.62 inches in Worthington on Saturday and .16 inches Sunday, the unofficial rain gauge at the Daily Globe’s offices registered a whopping 4.51 inches as of Sunday morning.
Similarly, the National Weather Service officially logged 2.28 inches of precipitation at Luverne for the 24-hour period ending at 7 a.m. Sunday, although some local rain gauges and anecdotal reports had rain totals ranging from seven inches to nearly 10 inches closer to Hardwick.
Either way, the rainfall proved to be enough to close I-90’s westbound lanes between Luverne and Sioux Falls, and both the east- and westbound lanes of I-90 from Magnolia to Luverne, for most of Sunday.
By 5:30 p.m. Sunday, all I-90 lanes were again open, though Rock County Sheriff Evan Verbrugge cautioned motorists to be on the lookout for stray cattle (due to breached fence lines).
“This is the worst (flooding) I’ve seen here since 1993,” attested Verbrugge, who had spent part of Sunday pumping water from his own basement.
“We’ve had flooding before, but not to this extent, and I’d say there is a very large percentage of households in Luverne with water and/or sewage in their basements.”
While many Luverne residents mopped up, and while Macklin and Moser scrambled to find an alternate campsite for the 114 Minnesota Bike Tour participants who had been intending to camp at Chautauqua Park Saturday night (they ultimately overnighted in the Worthington High School gymnasium), organizer Kenton Meier bemoaned the cancellation — for the second consecutive year — of the Regatta Bike Ride.
“One of these years we’ve got to have a nice Saturday for the regatta,” Meier said optimistically. “But it is nice to see the rain.”
No one could have agreed more with that sentiment than Worthington Public Utilities General Manager Scott Hain, who has anxiously monitored the city’s well levels for the last two years.
“It didn’t necessarily have to come as fast as it did, but given the choice between that and no rain at all, we’ll take it,” Hain said Sunday.
“Even as of last Friday, our wells had gained two to three feet, which is certainly the biggest jump we’ve seen thus far this year,” Hain continued.
“We still have a long way to go to get back to average water levels — we’re still at least nine feet below average — but we’ll likely see a couple more feet of improvement next week and possibly again the week after, plus there’s rain in the forecast for pretty much every day this week.”
Windsurfing races were squeezed in between raindrops on Saturday, roughly from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., and more races took place under blue skies and with fresh breezes on Sunday, with many pointing out that windsurfers were all about water, in any event.
“We needed to get a good soaker, and we needed to get the surface water bodies filled up,” asserted Hain.
“The wells will catch up eventually, provided it doesn’t quit raining on us — so this rain, though inconvenient, was all good.”