In southeastern Minn., the water kept on rising

(AP) Bruce Dorman was on his knees in a sloppy wet basement Sunday afternoon, vacuuming up water from one part while friends used large squeegees to push more into the flood drain.

His wife, Andrea, and other friends carried toys, games and furniture out the flooded walk-in basement. Outside, a pump moved water from their flooded backyard.

And the husband and wife laughed it off, sort of.

"What can you do?" Andrea said.

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"At least my house is still standing," he said. "A little water won't hurt anything."

They said they were in Elba late Saturday and tried to get home but Minnesota Highway 74 was closed so they took another route. When they looked in the basement about 1:30 a.m. Sunday, they saw water had leaked in. "It looked like a faucet," Andrea said.

"Water, a lot of water," he said. "It's more of a hassle than anything."

They weren't the only ones relying on friends and family. Throughout the city, people helped salvage items from apartments, homes and an assisted living building.

Margaret Braun of St. Charles was waiting to help move items out of her husband's grandparents unit in St. Charles Assisted Living but took time to help someone else move out before more of her family arrived. The units didn't get much damage though many roads were under water for a while, she said.

Troy Castle of Byron carried out a partially eaten cake for his the 60th anniversary of his fiancees grandparents. Amber Kieffer of Utica helped by bringing plates and napkins. The anniversary party began Saturday and was supposed to continue Sunday but early Sunday, the grandparents, Leon and Fern Kieffer, had to leave their home. It was "pretty nasty" inside, she said. The grandparents went to live with one of their children.

"Mud and silt, there's probably about an inch of water in their now," Castle said.

St. Charles Police Officer Jeff Schrock said he was called in about 1 a.m. and he and others went through a trailer court, the assisted living area, nearby apartments and a motel, telling people to leave because the Whitewater River was rising fast. Police, fire and ambulance people were called in to help, and the Red Cross came in too.

In all, about 70 people had to leave their homes, he said, and many more needed basements pumped out.

"Everybody said it's the highest we ever saw," he said. A reported 9.2 inches fell by 1 a.m. Sunday and more fell after that. "The rain, it just kept coming and the water kept on rising."

Joe Hewitt, fire department training officer, said fire, police and ambulance people had talked about a joint training exercise for a flood but decided to work on a tornado because that was more likely. "I never thought about a flood happening in St. Charles," he said.

"Our training was last night," said Adam Taylor, ambulance training director.

When they evacuated people, many were groggy with sleep and others didn't believe the water would rise high enough to get into homes or apartments.

They took people out by boat or helped them out. One rescuer was in water up to his chest.