Prairie Island Indian Community prepares for flooding

March 19, 2019 07:10 PM

The Prairie Island Indian Community is once again preparing for flooding.

The community is located on an island on the banks of the Vermillion and Mississippi Rivers. And waters there are already rising.


Officials hosted a emergency management flood planning meeting Tuesday. Volunteers will spend the next several days at sandbag stations preparing for the worst.

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Prairie Island Emergency Management Coordinator Schyler Martin said the community started planning for potential flooding three weeks ago.

"We the tribe are notifying all of our employees, all of the community members, as well as building berms and preparing sandbags," Martin said.

Lu Taylor will never forget the historic flood of 1965 and what it did to the Prairie Island Indian Community.

"I just remember water coming from everywhere," Taylor said. "It got to a point where we had to leave. They hauled us away on boats, and the elderly women had never been on boats."

RELATED: Flooding leads to closure of Highway 19 near Henderson

The island experiences flooding each year, but the concern is stronger than ever now because of the snowy winter.

"For voluntary evacuations, the water would have to rise to 683 feet," Prairie Island Indian Community President Shelley Buck said. "For a mandatory evacuation, we have put 685 feet as the platform."

Besides the community's homes and businesses, Xcel Energy's nuclear power plant sits next to the island.

"It's one of those you really can't stop it," Martin said. "You can try to hold back the waters as much as you can, but that water is going to constantly try to find some level ground. It will try to level itself out. And when that happens, there is not much you can do."

KSTP spring flooding coverage

Martin said members of the Prairie Island community will be meeting with the National Guard Wednesday morning to talk about the next steps.

Community members say the outpouring of support has been overwhelming. Sandbag filling will continue Wednesday and Thursday.

Several Minnesota sports teams are expected to help with sandbagging at Treasure Island Resort and Casino.

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Ashley Zilka

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