"This is the worst disaster that's hit southeast Minnesota in a lifetime:" state Senator Sharon Erickson Ropes
WINONA, Minn. -- Rivers swollen by as much as a foot of rain washed away houses and roads and killed at least 13 people as the remnants of Tropical Storm Erin soaked the Midwest, authorities said yesterday.
Hundreds of people in southeastern Minnesota and southwestern Wisconsin were evacuated, some by boat from rooftops.
"I cannot describe the terror of it all. I'm just glad to be alive," said Sean Wehlage, 29, who climbed onto the roof of his one-story home in Stockton to wait out the storm.
Governor Tim Pawlenty ordered 240 National Guard soldiers to the area to help with flood relief and provide security, and the Red Cross set up emergency shelters.
Photo Above: Some classic cars sat in flood water yesterday in Winona, Minn. Storms in the upper Midwest dropped as much as a foot of rain, causing flooding that washed away bridges and roads. (morry gash/ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN
STOCKTON -- The flood, when it struck, hit swiftly and furiously.
Heidi Bagniewski of Stockton had put her six children to bed when she looked out the picture window. The scene shocked her. Flood waters had already gathered around her home and were lapping at the front porch.
Thunderstorms dropped up to 12 inches of rain Saturday and Sunday in southwestern Wisconsin, washing out roads and bridges and triggering a mudslide that pushed a house onto a highway. About 75 homes were under water in downtown Gays Mills. An additional 1 to 3 inches of rain was forecast in southwestern Wisconsin.
"The radar screen confirmed what the torrential rain was suggesting Sunday morning: Tropical Storm Erin had confused Oklahoma for the Gulf Coast. In what the National Weather Service termed "AN EXTRAORDINARY EVENT,” the storm re-intensified just south of the Red River and developed sustained winds GRETER than tropical storm magnitude. The result: Numerous towns and cities received 5 inches or more of rain, and several volunteer observers for the Oklahoma Climatological Survey reported 10-plus inches...To see what we saw on satellite, where the system reorganized and had the look of a very well-organized system like you'd see over the Atlantic or the gulf, that's REALLY RARE.” The storm system hardly resembled what a tropical storm, or even a hurricane, is supposed to look like three days and 450 miles after landfall. "If you removed the map and took that satellite image and put it out in the Gulf of Mexico somewhere, you couldn't tell the difference from a tropical storm. This image above provided by the Oklahoma Mesonet shows the remnants of Tropical Storm Erin as it moved across Oklahoma just before 6 a.m. Sunday. provided by Oklahoma's Mesonet
Click the image at left for additional photos and stories for massive flooding.
Six people are dead and one is missing in Winona County, after severe flooding swept through the area.