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Southeastern Minnesota still swamped after a deluge of rain

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Filling sandbags in St. Clair
From left, Caleb Hall, Kaleb Sorenson, Joey Nicolai and Noah Schruin fill sandbags in St. Clair as the city battled the rising Le Sueur River. The St. Clair schools cancelled classes on Friday and hope to resume on Monday.
Jackson Forderer for MPR News

 Updated: 4:21 p.m. | Posted: 12:13 p.m.

After a deluge of rain, cities and towns in southeastern Minnesota are cleaning up debris, pumping water and trying to manage wastewater systems.

Today flooding in St. Clair prompted evacuations as area rivers continue to rise and low land flooding spreads, Emergency Management Officials reported.

The National Weather Service issued a flood warning for eastern Blue Earth County in south central Minnesota, that will be in effect until 12:45 p.m. Saturday.

Volunteers help Sarah Rossi sandbag her house.
Volunteers help Sarah Rossi sandbag her house in St. Clair. Mayor Marvin More said he was proud to see so many volunteers, fire departments and emergency services come together.
Jackson Forderer for MPR News

In St. Clair, up to a dozen homes and key parts of the city's sewage treatment system have been inundated, said city clerk/treasurer Catherine Seys. 

"We have two lift stations and a waste water treatment plant.  One of our lift stations and the sewer plant have been compromised,"  said Seys. "They are covered with water."

In Albert Lea, city officials say they're working to keep water overflowing from Fountain Lake in the center of town from completely swamping roadways.

Cannon River flows through Northfield.
Residents work to prevent the Cannon River from flooding into downtown properties on Friday in Northfield.
Sam Harper | MPR News

City Manager Chad Adams said some parts of the city are flooding for the first time ever.

"It's more than just roads, there's different community facilities in the area that just can't be utilized right now," he said.

Adams said there are up to a dozen road closures in the area, particularly around Fountain Lake in the center of town, which is overflowing. Rain also caused a steep hill near a local school to cave in.

Adams said his office is getting an unusually high number of residents reporting sewer backups in their basements, which means the local waste water system isn't able to keep up. Adams said they are diverting waste water into Albert Lea Lake.

Water pumps from the basement of Froggy Bottoms.
The Cannon River continues to flood as water pumps from the basement of Froggy Bottoms River Pub and Lily PADio on Friday. Froggy Bottoms was closed for the day after water got into the basement, forcing them to move tables and chairs upstairs.
Sam Harper | MPR News

Meanwhile, the Cedar River in Austin crested early Friday morning, and roads in the area have been closed according to local officials.

  In other parts of the region, officials report that the Zumbro River, Cannon River and the Straight River appear to have crested.

  With more rain in the forecast, Faribault Fire Chief Dustin Dienst said he thinks sandbag walls built in his area will be able to withstand another foot of water.

Cannon River floods basketball courts at Carleton.
The basketball courts behind West Gymnasium at Carleton College are covered in water.
Sam Harper | MPR News

  "It's all going to depend how much rain does fall," said Dienst. "I'm hoping (the rain) is going to miss us. If we can get a little bit of dry time, and create some room for (water) storage, I think we'll be OK."

Minnesota U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, whose Minnesota 1st Congressional District covers much of flooded southern Minnesota, will be in Steele and Waseca Counties Friday, touring the damage.

MPR News reporter Mark Steil contributed to this report.