NW Minnesota flooding: Red Lake River crests in Crookston; water levels rising elsewhere

Volunteers help with sandbagging near a river
Volunteers help with sandbagging near the Crookston Public Library on Sunday to protect against the rising Red Lake River.
Jess Bengtson | Crookston Times

Updated: 4:15 p.m.

Highways remain closed and officials continue to closely monitor water levels after some rain-swollen rivers in northwestern Minnesota rose to major flood stage over the weekend.

That includes the Red Lake River in Crookston, where volunteers filled sandbags to protect low-lying neighborhoods, and the city opened an evacuation center.

Over the weekend the river had been forecast to exceed the record crest of 28.4 feet, set in 1997 — though the National Weather Service on Monday morning revised that to a slightly lower crest of 27.1 feet.

Line of volunteers and sandbags
Volunteers lined the Red Lake River in Crookston to help with efforts to fill and place sandbags to keep flood waters at bay.
Jess Bengtson | Crookston Times

Interim city manager Corky Reynolds, speaking from the city's emergency operations center, told MPR News on Monday morning that the river appeared to have crested early Monday and was slowly dropping.

The river level continued to slowly fall on Monday afternoon. U.S. Highway 2 near Crookston — which had been closed due to water on the roadway — reopened just after noon Monday.

"We'll be maintaining our EOC for the foreseeable future, and we're thankful that it has apparently crested, and we can hopefully help our neighbors to the west," Reynolds said.

Gain a Better Understanding of Today

MPR News is not just a listener supported source of information, it's a resource where listeners are supported. We take you beyond the headlines to the world we share in Minnesota. Become a sustainer today to fuel MPR News all year long.

All the water passing through Crookston is feeding into the Red River, which continues to rise.

Officials in Grand Forks, N.D., and East Grand Forks, Minn., on Sunday closed the Point Bridge connecting the two cities. The Sorlie Bridge carrying Demers Avenue across the Red River closed Monday morning as officials installed flood closures across the roadway.

The Red River in flood stage at East Grand Forks, Minn.
The Red River in flood stage at East Grand Forks, Minn., on Monday morning. This view, looking west toward Grand Forks, N.D., is at a moderate flood stage of just over 43 feet.
Courtesy City of East Grand Forks webcam

Officials say the U.S. Highway 2/Kennedy Bridge should remain open, as the forecast crest of 48 feet is several feet below levels that affect that span.

Some other streets in Grand Forks have been closed due to rising water. And officials urged residents to limit water usage to lessen the burden on the city's wastewater treatment plant. The plant pumped 26 million gallons of water on Saturday, the city said — three times the normal level.

To the north, the rising Red River once again is threatening to cut off access to the community of Oslo, Minn., as it did in 2019.

The Weather Service is predicting a crest of 38 feet on Thursday — slightly below the record for Oslo, but slightly above the 2019 crest.

The community itself is protected by levees up to a river stage of 41 to 42 feet — but highways to and from the town are not. State Highway 1 east of Oslo is covered by water at a river stage of 37.5 feet.

Fire chief Corey Jamieson told MPR News on Monday morning that preparations are well under way.

"Each flood is a different flood, you know. It acts differently than the year before. No two floods are the same," he said. "But for the most part, we got her down pat, that's for sure."

Jamieson said Oslo will also be trucking in sandbags, filled in nearby Warren, to prepare for high water, although they aren't yet needed. He said Monday morning that water would start to fill surrounding farm fields if it rose only a few more inches.

Amid the ongoing flooding, Gov. Tim Walz on Sunday authorized the National Guard to help support the flood fight.

“When our neighbors are in trouble, we step up to lend a hand,” Walz said in a news release. “I am proud that the Minnesota National Guard has answered this call to serve.”

A highway damaged by floodwaters
Floodwaters caused damage to State Highway 92 near Brooks, Minn., as seen on Monday. MnDOT said the road will remain closed until repairs are made.
Minnesota Department of Transportation

In addition to the Sorlie Bridge in East Grand Forks, the Minnesota Department of Transportation reported Monday afternoon that the following state highways were closed due to flooding:

  • Highway 92 between U.S. Highway 69 and State Highway 32

  • Highway 113 east of Waubun, Minn.

  • Highway 220 between State Highway 1 and Marshall County Road 5

  • Highway 317 from State Highway 220 to the Red River bridge

Some other highways in the region have water over the road, but remain open. Find updated road reports here.

Heavy rain over the weekend also caused some county road closures in northeast Minnesota. St. Louis County public works officials reported several washouts and culvert failures across the northern portion of the county.