Some people living on Prior Lake are seeing something they haven't seen in about a month — their street.
Over the last two days, city staff, residents and some 300 volunteers set up a 700-foot long concrete barrier, a tactic that turned out to be quicker and simpler than building a wall of only sandbags. They began pumping water off the street and back into the south Twin Cities metro lake Thursday night.
• Previously: Even as flood damages mount, towns say planning paid off
The new approach is helping the area recover slowly from the flood. But as the water recedes, some residents are asking why it took weeks to get the barriers and pumps in place. Others wonder if development around Prior Lake is making flooding worse.
"It was four weeks that we've been suffering and it took two days to solve the problem," said Roger Steiner, who threw a makeshift party in his garage for his neighbors as pumps tossed water over a sandbag wall, reinforced with plastic covered concrete road barriers.
Steiner's home was the meeting point for most residents on the street, as well as the central mailbox for the affected homes. "Life will be back almost to normal. And that is a miraculous thing on this street," he said.
After heavy June rains raised Prior Lake's levels, the street had more than 2 feet of standing water on it in some places.
For weeks, Judy Workman's commute to work started with a block-and-a-half paddle boat ride from her house on Watersedge Trail NE to get to where she parked her car.
"I had to change clothes when I got to work. Then coming home, I had to take my paddleboat back, tie it up to the sandbag wall and climb over the wall and get into the house," she added. "It was a lot of work."
Workman said she and her husband have been up every two hours through the night making sure their sump pump is working.
Prior Lake spent about $8,500 on the barriers, said city manager Frank Boyles. Many of the sandbags used to help keep the water out were donated. The city reported $166,000 in flood damage to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The flooding issue has made some residents question the scale of development around Prior Lake.
Over-development has hurt the area's efforts to control flooding, said resident Jim Goodchild. "There's a lot of impervious surface. There's a lot of blacktop. We've got some new stores; we've got some new shopping. So that gives you additional runoff."
Goodchild, who said he had to canoe back and forth to get groceries and go to work, expects more flooding in the future, and hopes the city, the watershed district and others will come together with some solutions.