Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
After a long and snowy winter, it's only natural to look forward to spring, especially if you are a Minnesota farmer. Unfortunately, along with warmer weather the spring of 2011 is shaping up to bring us major flooding.
While the last two springs brought damaging floods along the Red River and a few other locations, meteorologists are calling for near-record flooding across much of Minnesota this year. Moderate-to-severe flooding is all but certain along the Red, Minnesota, and Mississippi Rivers, and the National Weather Service estimates that chances are greater than one in three that we will see record flooding in some communities.
And it's not just the big rivers that are going to present big problems. Saturated soils, heavy snow cover, and a delayed thaw make serious flooding likely along many of the state's smaller rivers, streams and creeks.
MDA is taking action to help Minnesota's agriculture community prepare. Our field personnel have been contacting at-risk businesses such as agricultural chemical storage facilities and retail food businesses in recent weeks to make sure they are prepared and have all the information they needed. We are updating our records for these facilities, and as flood waters rise, we will team up with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety and other partners to provide a coordinated response to any emergencies.
Spring flooding doesn't typically cause the catastrophic crop damage we see with summer floods because crops are not yet planted. However, flood waters can still damage fields, drainage structures, and erosion-control features. Spring fieldwork can be delayed by slow-draining fields. Livestock facilities and farm outbuildings can be damaged or destroyed. And as you'd expect, there are special risks for farm-related businesses such as agricultural chemical facilities, grain elevators, and grocery stores. To help these businesses prepare, we have posted tip sheets for vulnerable facilities on the MDA website at www.mda.state.mn.us.
Many of the farmers, ranchers and facility managers in flood-prone areas already know what they need to do. However, not everyone who is at risk may realize they are at risk. For example, the Minnesota Department of Commerce reports that up to 25 percent of flood-damage claims come from areas not considered high risk. With that in mind, here are some tips to keep in mind regarding spring flooding:
¥ Have a plan for minimizing your losses. This may mean moving valuable equipment, livestock or stored grain to other locations before the flood waters hit your area;
¥ Know how to contact your local police and fire officials, as well as the state duty officer, call (800) 422-0798 if you have an emergency;
¥ Check your insurance coverage to make sure it is up to date and fits your circumstances; and
¥ As the waters recede, watch for information about recovery resources and guidance from local, state and federal agencies. The Minnesota Recovers website www.minnesotarecovers.org, is a great place to start.