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Corps report says flood exceeded 500-year mark

Fri, Nov 16th, 2007
Posted in Government

RUSHFORD - If the Rushford City Council really needed official proof that the flood of '07 was a bad one, they got it at their meeting last Monday, November 12, in the form of a draft of a report from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Corps completed a flood damage reduction project (levees) for both the Root River and Rush Creek in Rushford in 1968.

The Corps has records showing that during a 1950 flood of Rush Creek, the U.S. Geological survey recorded the flow as being 11,600 cubic feet per second (cfs). In comparison, the flood of '07 had a peak flow of 39,500 cubic feet per second.

The '07 flood, like the 1950 flood, involved Rush Creek and not the Root River directly. The report states that the cfs flow for the Root River cannot be measured because of backflow from the creek.

The draft also states that the recorded 39,500 cfs is greater than the 500-year flood value of 34,400.

City Administrator Windy Block said that many local residents have been asking him what's to be done to assure that this kind of flooding event can't happen again. Block cautions that this draft from the USACE, is preliminary, and that there are "a lot of steps, both legally and practically, before we get to decision-making (about the dike system)."

Municipal Liquor Store

The topic that took up the most time at last Monday's meeting was the future of liquor in Rushford.

Insurance and FEMA estimates indicate that the Rushford Municipal Liquor Store building was more than fifty percent damaged in the flood, and therefore, it may be reasonable and less expensive to start rebuilding from scratch rather than remodeling.

Block presented a recommendation from liquor store manager Diane Jonsgaard that would increase the size of the off-sale store by taking approximately 300 square feet from the on-sale portion. Block indicated that most of the building costs will be covered by insurance or FEMA payments.

But a more basic question, brought about by comments and questions from citizens, is whether Rushford will stay in the liquor business with both an off and on-sale business. Council members reported being approached by citizens both for and against keeping the city's on-sale business.

Council member Larry Johnson indicated that he favored only off-sale liquor for the city's municipal liquor store in the future. Likewise, council member Herb Highum said he'd become convinced that maybe the city shouldn't compete with private business in town by having on-sale liquor available.

That's all a matter of perspective, according to Block, who asked the group to consider that the municipal liquor store came first. The idea was that private businesses (for example Nordic Lanes and Stumpy's) would have liquor licenses to supplement their primary income source, which might be food sales or recreation. Block said that the municipal liquor store does not compete with private business since it does not offer recreation (like bowling) or food (except for frozen pizzas.) The "Muni" also does not attempt to cater to large groups, leaving that to private businesses, said Block.

Kathy Zacher, City Clerk, reminded the council that the local liquor store has a recent history of making a profit, and that profit goes into the city's general fund, keeping taxes lower for everybody.

No action was taken. By default, the issue was tabled, and council members Laura Deering and Nancy Benson asked Block for more financial information, which he will provide at the next meeting.

In other business, the council:

• accepted a recommendation from the EDA to adopt the Rushford Minnesota Business Flood Recovery Loan Program and Flood Revolving Loan Fund Guidelines as written by Chuck Pettipiece of Pettipiece & Associates.

• approved a $147,320 bid recommendation recommended by Fire Chief Mike Ebner to replace the 1993 F-700 Ford Tanker Truck destroyed by flood waters. Insurance will pay approximately $90,000 for the loss of the tanker.

• accepted the recently approved Redevelopment Grant from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) for the Rushford Downtown City Center in the amount of $308,900.00.

• accepted with gratitude donations to the city from six different groups.

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