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Sunday’s rain fell hard and fast: Downpour causes flooding

A storm drain at Bethany on the Lake on Lark Street couldn't keep up with Sunday's heavy downpour. (Contributed photo by Bryan Stoeck)1 / 2
This screen shot taken from a video outside the Echo Press office Sunday around 6:30 p.m. shows water starting to pool in the street. (Celeste Edenloff / Echo Press) 2 / 2

A hard, fast rain Sunday evening not only washed out the last few hours of the Douglas County Fair, it left some area businesses and homeowners with lots of water where it didn't belong.

Among the casualties was the library at Alexandria Technical and Community College. With classes expected to start in another week, staff members were busy all day Monday cleaning up the mess left behind.

"We will be fine. It will be just fine," said Tam Bukowski, the college's safety coordinator. "We're survivors here."

Bukowski wasn't sure of the rainfall amount at the school, but the rain gauge at her home on the east side of Lake Cowdry showed about 6.5 inches.

Because of how the rain came in, she said that damage was limited and did not include the books. The library will be out of commission for a short time, she added.

Duane Evens, who has been the master electrician at the tech college for around two decades, explained that the water didn't come through the ceiling and that there was no damage to the ceiling in the library or any adjacent rooms.

Instead, he said there is a room — a crawl space of sorts, between the library and the next room — with a four-inch pipe used for draining water. The volume of rain fell so quickly that it built up pressure and blew the cap off the drain pipe, dumping water everywhere.

He said the water line on the walls in that area was about three feet high, while the water on the library floor ended up being about six inches deep.

"We sucked up about 35 gallons or more with the shop vac," said Evens, explaining that they took out 40 or more gallons with the floor scrubbers. He said the carpet was soaked, but once all the water was sucked up, there shouldn't be any damage.

A professional cleaning service will do a thorough cleaning, Evens said, noting that no computers in the library or adjacent rooms were damaged.

Laura Hagstrom, water resources engineer with Widseth Smith Nolting and Associates, the engineering firm for the city of Alexandria, called Sunday's rain storm an odd event because so much fell at once, there wasn't time for it to drain properly.

While some reports in Alexandria put rainfall totals near the six-inch mark, Osakis only got drops and Hagstrom heard Brandon got nearly three inches.

According to the National Weather Service hub in Chanhassen, the radar-estimated total for Alexandria was almost two inches, with Osakis getting between a half-inch and three-quarters of an inch and Brandon nearly 1.5 inches.

Carpet cleaning

Patrick Sieve, owner of Traveler's Inn restaurant on Broadway in downtown Alexandria, got called into work a little earlier than normal Monday morning.

Around 6:45 a.m. he received a call about the back dining room, which faces the parking lot on Hawthorne Street, because it was flooded.

He said there was roughly an inch of water on the carpet and that the dining room had to be closed until they could get rid of the water.

"I had to wait to clean it up until Ace (Hardware) opened up," he said, noting he had to rent the necessary equipment.

The carpet in that portion of the restaurant is fairly new, Sieve said, with this being just its second summer of traffic. When Sieve purchased it, he chose carpet that was water resistant. If a glass of orange juice or other liquid got spilled on it, he said the carpet would repel it.

He said for the most part the carpet acted like cement and the water just sat on top. However, because there was so much water, some did soak in.

"We look at it as a blessing in disguise," Sieve said. "It forced my hand to cleaner sooner than I had planned. But you should see it now, it looks great."

The back dining area was opened around 11 a.m., Sieve said, just in time for the noon rush.

Celeste Edenloff

Celeste is a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press and has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in June 2016 to report on the community she calls home. Besides writing articles for the Echo Press, she has a blog, “Newspaper Girl on the Run.” Celeste is on a continuous healthy living journey and loves to teach bootcamp fitness classes and run. She has participated in more than 200 races with her husband, Al, covering the 5K, 10K, 10-mile and half-marathon (13.1 mile) distances.

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