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Flood Update No. 6 - March 27, 2011

1.          River Levels


As of 3:00pm on March 27, 2011 the river is currently at 19.94 feet.  This morning’s National Weather Service projected a crest of the river beginning today at 19.8 feet happening and continuing through Tuesday.   Once again, the river continues to push higher than the NWS has been predicting since last Wednesday.  Since Thursday, the NWS has been slowly raising the level of the predicted crest after the river surpassed previous predictions.  The City expects another correction to the forecast this evening, most likely towards a first crest around 20 feet sometime on Monday. 


The operative word in that last paragraph is the word “first.”  The City would like to raise community awareness in today’s update that the high water this year is going to be unlike previous events in terms of its duration.  Since last Thursday, the National Weather Service has been increasing the discussion in terms of the potential of a second and possibly higher crest.  At that time, the NWS expected a first river crest this weekend around 18.8 feet.  With that in mind, the NWS was predicting a second crest of the spring would likely follow sometime in April-June.  The NWS had assigned the probability greater than 50% that the second would be higher than the 18.8 feet predicted at the time. 


As of today, the NWS is predicting the river to slowly recede beginning Tuesday through Friday of the coming week.  With the warming temperatures, however, the NWS is predicting the river will only recede to around 18.0 feet before it begins another climb next weekend.


As with any forecast, the probabilities change with time and additional information.  The City expects additional information in the coming days. 


2.          Action Steps


At this point, the City is protected with temporary levees up to approximately 21 feet.  Yesterday’s update contained a discussion of freeboard, and with approximately 1.1 feet of freeboard currently, the City does not anticipate any additional levee building to happen today. 


The City continues to monitor the pumps and temporary levees today, with two-person Public Works crews working around the clock.  The levee system continues to hold up well, with no known major issues at this time.  Seepage is occurring near Central Park at levels comparable to the 2010 flood, and this will be a growing focus in coming days.  Seepage and leaking continues in other anticipated locations, and is being successfully managed at this time. 


Of greater significance is the continued operation of the sanitary sewer bypass on the west side of the river.  Yesterday, Delano Fire Department members reached the damaged manhole structure in the river and place a cap on the manhole.  This required a significant effort, but looking at the fact that the river may remain above the manhole structure (17.3 feet) for a couple weeks, it was important to get to the manhole and provide another level of protection.  Thankfully, the Delano Fire Department is well-trained in water rescue/support and flawlessly executed the plan to cap the manhole structure. 


The sanitary sewer bypass operation is utilizing a large pump on Bridge Avenue, sending the sanitary sewer system over the Bridge Avenue bridge to the River Street sanitary sewer.  In the short-term, this process will continue to meet the community’s needs and prevent sanitary sewer backups on the west side of the river. However, given the anticipated duration of the flood event, the City is beginning to brainstorm and identify alternatives to the current bypass operation.  More information will be shared in future updates as alternatives are identified and considered. 


3.          Property Owner Impacts


Previous updates have shared impacts regarding specific properties and areas of concern. 


With water levels near 20 feet, concern grows for the properties the City located within the floodway and unable to be protected with temporary levees.  Specifically, downtown, Three Crows Café and Coffee Shop is the most impacted and high visible property.  The business continues to remain open. Brad and Gina, along with their faithful helpers, continue to fight the flood waters and keep their business open to the community.  The City continues to work with them and is hopeful to keep them open and operating. 


Downtown businesses on the whole remain impacted by the flood event.  With current road closures expected to remain for an extended period of time, it is important that the community remember to visit downtown and support this important part of Delano.   


4.          Road Closures


River Street between St. Peter Avenue and 2nd Street South


This section will be closed beginning Friday, March 25, 2011 until river levels subside and the temporary levee in this area is no longer needed.  Traffic will be rerouted at 7th Street to the south and Franklin Avenue to the north. 


Bridge Avenue between Highway 12 and River Street


This section of road was closed at 6:00pm Thursday, March 24, 2011 and will remain closed indefinitely.  The City’s flood plan calls for the bridge to be closed at 19 feet.  With the sanitary sewer diversion process also now utilizing the bridge as the primary method to convey sewer water from west to east, the bridge closer may be extended longer.


River Street between Bridge Avenue and Railroad Avenue


This section of road was closed at 6:00pm Thursday, March 24, 2011 and will remain closed until further notice.  The river flooding and sanitary sewer diversions are both concerns for traffic in this area.