NEW ULM - Living at the south end of Front Street for a number of years, Mike Haase has witnessed several Minnesota River flood crests behind his home.
Last year, he added a retaining wall made of paver stones.
This spring, as the river crept up his long backyard towards his home, Haase placed a tarp and weights to hold it down over the retaining wall.
Mike Haase looks at the swollen Minnesota River Tuesday while standing atop his retaining wall, just west of the clay berm being built to protect the southeast corner of New Ulm.
The Cottonwood River flows over Cottonwood Street Tuesday, just west of the bridge. Police closed the street to traffic early Monday morning.
In addition, a massive clay berm now sits protectively behind the retaining wall. The New Ulm City Council authorized the construction of the berm last week. M R Paving built the dike.
"I remember in 1997 when the river hit its highest mark (historical crest of 811.03 feet on April 9). It was close to the house," Haase said. Sandbagging saved homes and businesses that year.
As the river swells beyond its banks, the berm is poised to save homes and businesses on South Front and South Valley street.
"The City of New Ulm is doing a great job on the dike. We should be OK as long as there are no big ice jams. But the ice hasn't broken free yet," Haase said.
The Minnesota River at New Ulm was measured at 798.08 feet at 2 p.m. Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).
The river rose more than 2 feet in the previous 24 hours.
It is forecast to top 800 feet (moderate flood stage) early Thursday morning and reach 804 feet by Sunday.
Major flood stage is 805 feet.
With occasional ice chunks floating by, the Cottonwood River at New Ulm raced under the Cottonwood River bridge and splashed over now-closed Cottonwood Street just west of the bridge Tuesday on the south end of town.
The river was measured at 15.34 feet at 1 p.m. Tuesday, according to the NWS.
The Cottonwood River was forecast to crest at 17.5 feet on Thursday.
The NWS in the Twin Cities issued flood warnings for rain and melting snow until 3:30 p.m. Wednesday in Brown, Blue Earth, Faribault, Le Sueur, Martin, Nicollet, Redwood, Sibley and Watonwan counties.
For updated information, call 511 or visit www.511mn.org
(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org).