With the COVID-19 pandemic beginning to fade into to the rear-view mirror, the Canadian border re-opening, and this long winter giving into spring, there’s a palpable sense of optimism and renewal here in the Northland. While the pandemic had a profound and lasting impact on so many facets of our lives, the same sturdiness and resiliency that the early settlers to Koochiching County embodied has helped business owners, healthcare workers, educators and families endure the hardship of the last two plus years.
We’ve been through a great deal. And then the water began to rise. After a late ice-out and a 4 inch rainfall on mostly frozen ground, the Rainy Lake Watershed began it’s Spring rise. With additional May rains, the rise has turned into an historic flood situation that will surpass the 1950 all-time high-water event on Rainy Lake. Hundreds of home-owners and lodge owners are locked in a lengthy battle, using sandbags and pumps to fight the rising water. Volunteers, emergency services personnel, the Red Cross, and the Minnesota National Guard are assisting in the fight, filling thousands of sandbags throughout the Rainy Lake Watershed. The seriousness of the situation was sounded in the first week of May and the sandbagging began. An additional 4 + inches of rain over the Memorial Day weekend added insult to injury and has led to the closure of roads and put hundreds of lake home owners in a round the clock fight for their homes and property. This historic high water event is not expected to peak until mid-June and will remain high throughout the summer. The impacts will be felt well into the future. Neighbors, friends, volunteers and strangers assisted by city and county staff are working side-by-side to try to keep the water back.
In this Spring/Summer newsletter, we’re departing from our regular format to document this historic flood and the heroic efforts of our expanded community to respond.