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WINDOM, Minn. - Residents in southwestern Minnesota awoke to flooded yards and closed roads Saturday after heavy rains overnight.

The Interstate 90 corridor in the state's southwest corner received 2 to 2.5 inches of rain over the last 24 hours, the National Weather Service in Chanhassen said Saturday.

According to one report, about 3.5 inches of rain fell northwest of Windom in that period. Much of the rest of southwestern Minnesota received 1 to 1.5 inches.

"They had some really intense rains," Scott Morgan, an assistant maintenance engineer for the Minnesota Department of Transportation in Mankato, said Saturday. The region had already seen 7 inches of rain by Friday, he said.

Video (00:28) Trucks carried sandbags Saturday to residents in Waterville, where streets were blocked off due to flooding and pumping was needed.

A portion of I-90 was briefly closed Saturday morning so crews could set up cones where the freeway's shoulder had been damaged by rain, Morgan said.

Near the South Dakota border, Hwy. 14 east of Lake Benton was closed Saturday in both directions due to flooding. According to the Lincoln County Sheriff's Department, nearly every road in Verdi and Lake Benton townships were underwater in spots.

Other roads in southwestern Minnesota, including Hwy. 60 from Worthington to Windom, closed Saturday morning. In the Mankato area, Hwy. 30 near Mapleton, Hwy. 14 near Eagle Lake and Hwy. 93 near Le Sueur were closed Saturday morning, and Hwy. 4 north of St. James was closed Saturday afternoon. Hwy. 99 near St. Peter and Hwy. 19 near Henderson, both of which closed earlier this week, were restricted to traffic.

A stranded vehicle along Hwy. 60 in southwestern Minnesota on Saturday morning.
A stranded vehicle along Hwy. 60 in southwestern Minnesota on Saturday morning.

Christopher Vondracek, Star Tribune

The Blue Earth County Sheriff's Office on Saturday implemented a no-wake order on area lakes, restricting boating on Madison Lake, Duck Lake, Lake Ballantyne, Lake George, Eagle Lake, Lura Lake, Crystal Lake, Loon Lake, Mills Lake and Ida Lake.

Cottonwood County declared a temporary state of emergency on Friday, opening up eligibility for federal and state relief aid, said Paul Johnson, the county's emergency management director.

Preliminary estimates of damage to public infrastructure in the county start in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and could range up to more than a million, Johnson said. The water seemed to be cresting and there was hope it would stop rising Saturday afternoon, he said, but it could remain an issue for a while.

"It could be very high water for the next week," he said.

Residents in the Cottonwood County seat of Windom, where heavy rains have caused the Des Moines River and Perkins Creek to overflow, said they awoke to water flowing into their yards and basements.

Volunteers stack sandbags five levels high after flooding in parts of Windom, Minn., June 22, 2024. From left to right: Dodge Byam, Wyatt Haugen, and Wriley Haugen assisted in the sandbagging.
Volunteers stack sandbags five levels high after flooding in parts of Windom, Minn., June 22, 2024. From left to right: Dodge Byam, Wyatt Haugen, and Wriley Haugen assisted in the sandbagging.

Jp Lawrence

"All of us are pretty wet," said Warren Winkel on Saturday morning. He said he had about 4 feet of water in the basement of his home near Perkins Creek.

Intense rainfall began around 8:30 p.m. on Friday and then tapered off, but continued to fall until 4 a.m. Saturday, residents said.

Winkel, an 85-year-old retired construction manager, said he has lived near Perkins Creek since the 1970s and is used to the creek flooding. He built a brick patio with a wall to block the water, and had seemed confident about his prospects when asked Friday night.

On Saturday morning, however, Winkel said he couldn't believe how fast the water had risen.

"This is by far the worst that I've seen," he said.

Winkel's neighbor, Yuliana Guerrero, said her family spotted water seeping into their home at 10 p.m. Friday. When the family woke up Saturday morning, they found 3 feet of water in their kitchen and their chairs afloat.

"I can't even open the back door," Guerrero said.

While the Guerrero family has lived in Windom for two decades, they only recently moved to their house by the creek. This year's flood is the first they've experienced there, she said.

"This is our second year," Guerrero said Friday.

"(Our) last year!" added her husband, Reyes.

Yuliana Guerrero explains how more than a foot of water flooded her kitchen after heavy rain at her home in Windom, Minn., on June 21 and 22, 2024.
Yuliana Guerrero explains how more than a foot of water flooded her kitchen after heavy rain at her home in Windom, Minn., on June 21 and 22, 2024.

Jp Lawrence

Joe Fischenich said he's lived in Windom all his life but that this year's flooding has surprised him. The creek last year was almost dry, but this year it's flowing fast and high, knee to thigh deep in places.

Outside Fischenich's home, volunteers began unloading sandbags to protect his home from the water. The rumble of sump pumps could be heard throughout the neighborhood.

"I've never seen it like this," said Fischenich, who was up until 1 a.m. Saturday stacking sandbags at his home. "Just got to go with the flow."

Video (00:21) Most years Perkins Creek is small and sometimes dries out, but it flooded after heavy rains overnight. Joe Fischenich stacks sandbags outside his Windom home.