Storms in Wisconsin, Minnesota prompt evacuations, flooding

LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) — Heavy rains pounded Wisconsin and Minnesota Monday night, prompting evacuation orders for about 100 residents in one small Wisconsin town and flash flooding in parts of Minnesota, where people at a council meeting briefly took cover in a basement.

The storms also caused power outages to about 2,200 customers in the southwest Wisconsin city of La Crosse, according to Xcel Energy. Meanwhile, in southeast Minnesota, powerful winds downed trees and power lines. No injuries have been reported, but emergency responders cleaning up debris and assessing damage are bracing for another round of storms that the National Weather Service said could drop as much as 5 inches of rain in the region Tuesday night into Wednesday.

“The same general area is expected to see very heavy rain over the next six to 12 hours, so we anticipate some additional flooding concerns,” said Bob Oravec, lead forecaster with the weather service in College Park, Maryland.

The western counties of La Crosse, Vernon and Monroe have already been particularly hard hit with 5 to 11 inches of rain. In Coon Valley, a town of about 765 people just southeast of La Crosse, emergency responders helped residents evacuate Monday night and into Tuesday morning. In Vernon County, nearly 40 roads were closed.

Residents at the Bothne House retirement center in Coon Valley had to be evacuated twice — first to the Village Hall and then to a nearby elementary school when water began coming into the hall, the La Crosse Tribune reported.

The weather service said two people were rescued from flood water while camping near the Kickapoo River not far from Rockton in Vernon County. Adams County in south central Wisconsin was under a flash flood warning until early Tuesday morning after up to 7 inches of rain fell.

The overnight storms largely missed Madison, which is still recovering from last week’s storm and flooding.

In southeastern Minnesota, flash flooding was reported after Houston County received more than 5 inches of rain, the Star Tribune reported. In Red Wing, Minnesota, a city council meeting was delayed Monday night because of heavy rains that had people taking cover in the basement. At the Red Wing Regional Airport, the National Weather Service said wind gusts that reached 82 mph damaged a hangar.

Rain was also heavy enough in the Twin Cities to force rides and stages at the Minnesota State Fair to be evacuated. Fair spokeswoman Danielle Dullinger said people were directed to five weather shelters on the fairgrounds.

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