Henderson copes with a flooded out road — but help may be on the way

Flood risks in Henderson

Flood risks in Henderson

A whirlpool of swirling water — and Highway 93, partly underwater.

That’s what happened with overflow from the Rush River outside Henderson Thursday.

“When I left today, there was no flooding,” recalls Jamie McNay.. “My buddy called me and said, the road, it closed. It took me by surprise.”

A 5 Eyewitness News crew found McNay just trying to get home.

He lives along the flooded and closed highway.

“Historically, it’s been much worse than it is today,” he says. “But if this trend continues, it continues to rise, it’ll just be impassable.”  

For Henderson, a town of about 900 people, those high waters are almost an annual event.

Video from 2019 shows roadways in and out of town covered with several inches of water.

“That water just barrels down, and we deal with it down here,” declares Henderson Mayor Keith Swenson.

Swenson says he’s most concerned that two of the main roads into town — Highway 93 and County Road 6 — will be closed at the same time.  

“Our problems are not the property damage from the flooding,” he explains. “Our problems are more financial — losses to the businesses.” .

As Henderson is grappling with road closures, state officials outlined plans to deal with flooding across the state.

“We always say we hope the flooding season is not that bad, but hope is not a plan,” Governor Tim Walz told reporters.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it’s ready to help.  

“We are ready to provide technical assistance, flood fighting materials such as sandbags, air pumps, technical oversight and contracting for emergency levies to protect critical infrastructure,” explains Lt. Colonel Rob Wilkins.

Back in Henderson, Jeff Steinborn runs the Classic Car Roll-in every Tuesday between May and October.

He says the get-together of classic car owners attracts an average of 325 cars and 2000 visitors each week.

He hopes flooding doesn’t impact the event.

Right now — it’s unclear how long Highway 93 will remain closed.

“We discussed the idea of improvements to Henderson, and the citizens spoke up and said the number one issue is flood mitigation,” Steinborn notes.

The former town council member says he’s excited about a planned $40-million MnDOT project to elevate both Highway 93 and County Road 6 by seven feet, keeping them above flood waters.  

Town officials hope that work on the two projects could begin as early as this fall.

“It’s going to be tough on this community for a couple of years while that’s in development and construction,” Steinborn says. “But in the end, it’s going to be a game-changer, bring (Henderson) into the 21st century.”