Record Flooding Hits Big Sandy Lake

By KBJR News 1

June 27, 2012 Updated Jul 6, 2012 at 10:53 PM CDT

Aitkin County, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - People living near Big Sandy Lake in Aitkin County say they're seeing flooding like they haven't in decades. Heavy rain has caused the lake to flood feet away from the shoreline.

Hundreds of properties in the area have flooded. Some houses are completely surrounded by water.

Larry Bates is one of the lucky ones. His home on the Big Sandy Lake shoreline is still several feet away from the rising water.

"It went down for about four days and then we got all the rain. We were lucky we had almost a week in between or this water would have reached the house," Bates said.

Neighbors say that while the lake levels are continuing to rise, it's at a slower rate. The lake is connected to the Mississippi River by a dam, but officials from the Army Corp. of Engineers say that they can't let any of the lake water out, because the river levels are also too high.

This is a problem for Big Sandy Lake residents like Gus Winkle. He's counting his blessings in feet. There are about six of them separating his house from the water's edge.

"It's all the way up to almost the house. We're not even in the flood plain, but it's awful close to our house," Winkle said.

The water near the Dungan family's lake home is up to their front door.

"We're trying to save it with the sandbags," said Jim Dungan of their waterfront property.

Shamrock Township and Aitkin County have been providing them and other flood victims with sandbags. The Dungans say that they've already gone through about 800.

"You go and you pick up 200 and you think that's going to be enough," said Carol Dungan, "And then you pick up 300."

According to the Army Corp., the river is expected to crest around Friday. They say that the area hasn't seen flooding this severe since 1950.

FEMA representatives were in the area Wednesday to assess damage.

Written for the web by Jennifer Austin.