Central Minnesota community dealing with flooding, pandemic

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Thirty-five of the 39 homes along Lake Shore Drive in central Minnesota are flooded.

The home of Terry and Ardis Sandstrom on the northeast side of Lake Shamineau in Morrison County is in about four feet of water. Because of that, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS couldn’t get there by car. And there’s still ice on the lake, so it’s not safe by boat.

So, the KSTP crew met with them along Lake Shore Drive near Motley. Their biggest fears these days consist of living with the flooding and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Terry, a Scandia Valley Township Board Chairperson said, “How dire is it? We are without a house.”

The only thing saving it at the moment involves neighbors helping to stack 5,0000 sandbags. In the meantime, the Sandstroms are relying on makeshift living: a camper and shed.

KSTP flooding coverage

The aerial views from Chopper 5 show the damage to homes all along Lake Shamineau. During Gov. Tim Walz’s ‘stay at home’ order, the couple was forced to leave their house due to the flooding.

“We literally had 20 minutes to get out of our home,” said Ardis, who is one of the directors of the Lake Shamineau Lake Improvement District.

This past weekend, conditions worsened with high winds and ice out causing more damage to the community.

“One house went down here the other day because the wind changed directions,” Terry said.

The goal is to put all the excess water into an infiltration area, comprised of two four-and-a-half-acre basins in a rural area.

“We are looking to pump this lake,” Terry said.

A pipe system is set to be built by summer and pumping is set to kick off in the fall. They want to mitigate unintended consequences.

“This is a process that is very regulated, and we do not intend to flood them out,” Ardis added.

The Sandstroms said they are worried that the much-needed funding and the start of construction on a pipe to help will be delayed because of COVID-19.

“We are feeling that intensely … and we even testified down at the state Capitol, and then all of a sudden COVID-19 hit, and all of the attention had to be turned toward COVID-19 and saving lives, but that put all of the work that we put so far into this, on hold.”

It’s a long pause, as they watch and wait.