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Dayton continues tour of flood damage in southern MN

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A sign showing the all-time flood crest of the west fork
A sign showing the all-time flood crest of the west fork of the Des Moines River in Jackson, Minn., stands out above the current flooding there on June 9, 2018.
Mark Steil | MPR News

Gov. Mark Dayton continued his tour of flood damage in southern Minnesota on Monday, with stops in Windom, Jackson and Blue Earth.  During the Jackson stop, Dayton pledged state resources to repair washed out roads and other flood damage.

"The magnitude of the water is just stunning," said Dayton. "I've never seen anything like it."

Several state legislators traveled with Dayton. 

The west fork of the Des Moines River is receding in southwest Minnesota after approaching record levels because of recent heavy rains. At Windom, the river came within 16 inches of its all-time high. Downstream in Jackson, the Des Moines crested at about three feet under its record level. The summertime flood came after several weeks of downpours in the region. Last week, more than nine inches of rain fell in the headwaters area of the river in Murray County. 

Many places in the flood zone have seen road washouts. Farm fields are also flooded. 

"There's a lot of damage out there," said Don Wachal, who chairs the Jackson County Board of Commissioners. "Some we don't even know yet because the water's still up high in some of the fields and things. And people are suffering out there. Not just with the fields being covered. But with the roads being ripped up and everything."

Farmers are concerned that the heavy rains have washed out fertilizer applied earlier this year to help corn and soybean fields. As the excess water moves through the soil, it can drag the fertilizer down far enough so that crop roots can't reach it.  But how much damage was done won't be known until the fields are harvested. 

"We'll have to wait and see what kind of crop we end up with in the bin," said state agricultural commissioner Dave Frederickson, who accompanied Dayton. 

Frederickson said crop insurance should help cover some of the yield loss.