Property owners nervously await crest on Rainy Lake

By KBJR News 1

June 30, 2014 Updated Jul 1, 2014 at 10:52 AM CDT

International Falls, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- Residents and business owners along the shores of Rainy Lake in International Falls are nervously awaiting the flood waters to crest, with more rain in the forecast.

"You look now you can see the barrels are 42 inches underwater, so we're looking at a seven foot differential from early May to right now... that's a lot of water" said Rod Haanen, owner of the Thunderbird Lodge.

Lake resort owners have had sandbags against their foundations for weeks as the lake level keeps rising.

"The community has come together. We've filled approximately 350 thousand bags" said Sheriff of Koochiching County, Brian Jespersen.

But more rain in the forecast is causing more than a headache for Rod Haanen, owner of the Thunderbird Lodge.

"It makes the stomach get a little more upset" said Haanen.

Especially because there aren't clear answers for when the lake will crest.

"There've been predictions and best guesses and a lot of smart people putting their heads together trying to get it all figured out then we get some rain and it all changes. I keep waiting for that two more days, three more days" said Haanen.

Waiting, weighing options and eventually compromising with mother nature.

"The pressure differential was starting to cause some erosion problems so we elected to basically fill up our crawl space with water" said Haanen.

Which means more work as the water must be pumped out every few hours.

"There's a lot of docks that just yesterday winds came in and blew them right off their moorings and they were gone" said Haanen.

Which is a sign that boats on the lake need to be on the lookout.

"These big winds are breaking stuff apart, logs are coming off the shore that got washed up, now they're getting floated out, so there's plenty of stuff out there to watch out for" said Sheriff Jespersen.

Just more getting in the way of a community working hard to enjoy a season that is usually their reward after a long winter.

"They want summer and we haven't been able to enjoy summer at all" said Haanen.

Resort owners say the one upside to the flooding is that the fishing is quite good out on the lake, but they've also noticed fewer ducks and geese this year.

Bryce Henry
bhenry@kbjr.com