Aerial images show raging water flowing around Rapidan Dam in southern Minnesota

Updated

RAPIDAN  TOWNSHIP, Minn. — New aerial images from Tuesday morning show strong water continuing to rush around a dam that has partially failed in southern Minnesota.

Aerial footage taken Tuesday morning of Rapidan Dam.  / Credit: WCCO
Aerial footage taken Tuesday morning of Rapidan Dam. / Credit: WCCO

The Blue Earth County Sheriff's Office says debris started accumulating on Sunday at the Rapidan Dam, a 114-year-old structure located about 10 miles southwest of Mankato, placing it "in imminent failure condition."

As of Wednesday moring, the dam is still intact and there are no plans for a larger evacuation.

Aerial footage taken Tuesday morning of Rapidan Dam.   / Credit: WCCO
Aerial footage taken Tuesday morning of Rapidan Dam. / Credit: WCCO

Officials said that there had been a partial failure on the west abutment. That's where part of the river has been diverted, causing erosion and forcing an evacuation of the family home of the owners of the nearby Rapidan Dam Store. Most of the home collapsed into the river on Tuesday night.

Aerial footage taken Tuesday morning of Rapidan Dam.  / Credit: WCCO
Aerial footage taken Tuesday morning of Rapidan Dam. / Credit: WCCO

Le Sueur County residents in low-lying areas of the Minnesota River Valley are advised to closely monitor the situation and potentially evacuate, according to the county's emergency management office.

 / Credit: WCCO
/ Credit: WCCO

In 1972, the historical society says the county board ruled the dam should either be rebuilt or torn down since the dam would cause "considerable damage" to the surrounding areas should it collapse.

To address safety concerns, engineers added more concrete reinforcement to the Rapidan Dam in the 1980s. The National Society of Professional Engineers called the renovations "one of the top engineering feats of 1986."

The National Inventory of Dams rated it in poor condition as of April 2023, classifying its hazard potential as "significant."

Aerial footage taken Tuesday morning of Rapidan Dam.    / Credit: WCCO
Aerial footage taken Tuesday morning of Rapidan Dam. / Credit: WCCO

Meanwhile, Iowa residents have needed rescue from record-setting flooding. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said water in some areas rose above records from 1993, a flood many in the Midwest remember as the worst of their lives. The floods have also hit parts of South Dakota and Nebraska.

The Minnesota National Guard has been activated to help with the toll. Gov. Tim Walz declared a peacetime emergency for the state over the weekend, which allowed the National Guard to deploy.

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