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June 19, 2014 flood aftermath - Henderson, MN

| Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Mudslide on farm field - Henderson, MN
Now that the television news teams have retreated back to their Twin Cities offices and Twin Cities area commuters have their choice of Minnesota River crossings to drive on, all that's left to deal with regarding the 2014 June/July Minnesota River flood is the aftermath. Unfortunately, the aftermath never gets the same level of attention, if any at all, that the actual flood gets. Everyone remember reporters standing in knee-deep water but few care to get out after the waters recede and show the true damage that the rush of flood waters caused.

The first photo, shown above, is immediately north of the small town of Henderson, MN which lies on the west bank of the Minnesota River. This smaller farm field is at least half covered by sang and mud from the bluff to the west. While the water has receded (this was taken about a week ago) the mud, sand and trees remain on this farm field. The corn crop, for the most part, is a loss and I can't fathom how this can be cleaned up and returned to valuable farm land in time for the 2015 growing season.

House surrounded by Mudslide - Henderson, MN
This house, owned by rural Henderson residents Curt and Cindy Boelter, is uninhabitable after being surrounded by mudslides from the bluff behind the family's home. While nobody was injured, insurance doesn't cover the damage as it is considered a flood. The couple was graciously put up in a vacant home within Henderson but it will be a long road to recovery as the Boelters are faced with the task of rebuilding and replacing belongings lost in the mudslide.

Mud covering yard - Henderson, MN
Mud and sand from a usually dry creek covered this now-abandoned property across the Minnesota River from the devastated village of Blakeley. The family who had lived here abandoned their property after numerous floods, the last straw though was the fall 2010 flood which set a record high water mark on the Minnesota River. From my vantage point, the sand deposited looked to be about two feet deep across the entirety of the property.

Mud covering farm fields - Henderson, MN
This farm field, immediately south of High Island Creek (north of Henderson, Minnesota), is covered by multiple inches of mud and sand deposited by the flood waters of the Minnesota River which encroached the property from across the adjacent Sibley County 6 roadway. With the land drying out as of this morning, it is too late now to attempt to plant anything of value in the mud-crusted soil. This farmer faces a year without income from this crop land.

Mud in road ditches - Henderson, MN
This road ditch on Sibley County road 6 immediately north of Henderson, MN is filled with mud deposited from both the adjacent Minnesota River and the mudslides from the bluffs to the west of this property. Cash- and personnel-strapped Sibley County has struggled to repair damaged roadways and it appears that this particular farmer had been using his own excavator to remove mud from the completely filled road ditches on his property.

Minnesota 93 closed at Henderson, MN
Minnesota State Highway 93, the southern entrance and exit to the Minnesota River valley community of Henderson, MN, remains closed today and in a state of disrepair. The state highway closed on Thursday June 19th as water from the Minnesota River encroached on the roadway and water from the Rush River streamed across the highway. After the water receded, the damage was apparent as a hundreds foot-long section of the highway had been washed away by flood waters. No timetable has been given for the extensive repairs but rumors (as not even officials from MnDOT are communicating directly with area residents) peg the repairs as taking anywhere form one to three weeks or longer.

Midslide aftermath - Henderson, MN
This is the view from the still-closed Minnesota Highway 19 east of Henderson, MN. Pavement repairs need to be made on the lower portion of the highway between the Minnesota River and the Union Pacific railroad overpass to the east but the real damage, apparently, is on the highway's ascent from the river valley to the higher ground to the east. Damaged by mudslides and apparently with the road bed weakened by the heavy rains, repair estimates range from 60-90 days or longer for a fairly heavily traveled piece of the state's highway network as this roadway connects farms as far west as South Dakota to Red Wing in the east. This is also a vital link to the rest of the state for the small community of Henderson and with MnDOT again being less than forthcoming regarding details about needed repairs and the damage that led to them, all that remains are rumors and second- or third-hand reports of unknown origin.

So, in a nutshell, this is the aftermath of the June 19th flood. Three weeks later and the story had been forgotten by larger media outlets and residents and communities are left to go it alone as they struggle to recover from one of the most damaging floods to hit the Minnesota River valley since 1965. Residents face detours for weeks more, if not months. Main Street businesses are struggling and paring down employee hours in the face of a heavy decline in tourism in the area. Farmers face tremendous levels of losses. This particular area of the Minnesota River valley will be changed forever.

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