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Flash flood watch widespread in Minnesota, 9 inches of rain swamps Olivia

OLIVIA - A flash flood watch remains in effect until 1 a.m. Friday in west-central and much of southern Minnesota after a night of downpours, with some areas receiving more than 9 inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service.

OLIVIA – A flash flood watch remains in effect until 1 a.m. Friday in west-central and much of southern Minnesota after a night of downpours, with some areas receiving more than 9 inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service.

There is again a chance of rain later Thursday, with more heavy downpours possible, according to the National Weather Service.

Residents in Olivia are beginning the process of draining out their basements and city staff is continuing the cleanup process Thursday after more than 9 inches of rain fell overnight.

“I’ve never seen so much water in my life,” David Ervin, Olivia Water/Wastewater Supervisor, said.

“What a mess,” Kim Harrier, Public Works Supervisor said, echoing Ervin about the sheer amount of rain.

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Ervin said the wastewater plant in town was not able to keep up with the rain.

“Not too good. We’re pretty much flooded out,” Ervin said.

The pumps were able to make some headway late Wednesday after the rain had seemed to slow down. But then round two came through in the early morning hours.

“It rained and rained all over again,” Ervin said.

Olivia’s stormwater pond on the south side of town has overrun its banks.

“I never thought I would see that,” Harrier said.

The ditches around town are also full of water, so it will take some time for levels to recede.

For residents, the water levels in basements quickly became too much for sump pumps to handle. Ervin said he has heard stories of basement egress windows blowing out because of the water levels, and residents just don’t know what to do.

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“People are just beside themselves,” Ervin said.

Harrier said there have been reports of sewer backups as well.

More than 7.5 inches was reported in the Willmar area Wednesday and overnight.

Guests on the first floor of the Super 8 Motel were moved to rooms on the upper floors around 10 p.m. Wednesday as waters started gushing in the front and side door of the South First Street business, according to owner Dave Baker of Willmar. The entire first floor is flooded, but guests handled the disruption well, he added.

“Water was coming down the stairs like a waterfall,’’ said Baker. “That’s when I knew I kind of lost the battle.’’

One Wilmar home’s basement caved in on top of a water main, breaking the pipe and flooding the basement.

Willmar Fire Chief Frank Hanson said the family got themselves out of that house and called emergency services. The fire, police and public works departments arrived on scene and worked to shut off the water main there.

An abnormally high water content in the atmosphere could lead to rainfall rates of 2 inches or more per hour in the area again Thursday. If additional rainfall occurs, the flash flood threat will increase.

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Related Topics: WEATHER
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