More Emergency Grade Raising and National Guard Arriving Thursday in International FallsJun 02, 2022 11:56AM ● By Laura Durenberger
Image: Kelly Sikkema
From Koochiching County - June 2, 2022
An additional 50 National Guard soldiers will be arriving in International Falls this evening to assist with the ongoing flood response. The Koochiching County Emergency Response Teamis is also getting additional sandbag machinery and with the additional National Guard members present, can expand sandbag operations to help meet community need. Sandbag operations at Kerry Park will be expanded to include two shifts between the hours of 6 am through 10 pm, with bags available to the public between 8 am – 8 pm, starting on Friday, June 3. Neighbors in the area may see and hear activity earlier than usual; we ask for your patience and understanding for this temporary inconvenience. If residents need assistance with sandbags for their property, call the non-emergency number of the Koochiching County Sheriff’s Office at 218-283-4416.
“We are grateful to the National Guard for deploying additional soldiers to come to our aid and assist with local flood response,” said Sheriff Perryn Hedlund. “We are also extremely grateful for every volunteer who has come out to assist, including those from the Red Cross and Salvation Army who have been here daily, as well as all of the members of our Emergency Operations Center team who have been working nonstop to respond to this community emergency. We are fortunate to have a diverse and talented team of many partners working together for Koochiching County residents. We have a long way to go before we see water levels peak and subside, but I extend my personal thanks to everyone who has played a role in our response to date.”
Additional Emergency Grade Raises to Highway 11 Thursday
With water levels continuing to rise, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) will be performing additional emergency grade raises on Highway 11 today, to preserve access and keep at least one lane operational. Grade raises will be done on Highway 11 near Tilson Bay and at County Road 139. MnDOT asks the public to use extra caution on these bypasses. Motorists must follow the directions on the signalized systems as it is timed appropriately for the travel distance. Travel only when the signal is green and wait until the next cycle before entering the bypass as traffic may be approaching from the other direction. Do not stop in a bypass for any reason including to observe conditions or take pictures. For real-time traffic and travel information in Minnesota, visit www.511mn.org.
Extended Cellular Coverage
The Emergency Response Team was able to request a satellite COLT signal booster from Verizon to improve patchy cellular service. The temporary tower booster will be positioned at ‘Almost Rainy’ and will improve cellular coverage within a three-mile radius.
Many volunteers have been working daily for the last several days to weeks and need a break. To meet community demand, additional volunteers are needed to help fill sandbags. To volunteer, please report to the registration tent at Kerry Park and you will be directed on what to do.
Outdoor Equipment & Dock Weight Tie Down
A reminder to all dock owners: remember to tie off any totes or barrels being used to weigh down docks as these items can float away as water rises and can pose a number of serious hazards. Residents are encouraged to store any outdoor furniture, toys or equipment or properly secure these items so they do not float away or become debris.
Temporary Evacuation Check-in Point
The Temporary Evacuation Check-in Point (TECP) remains open at the Backus Community Center, 900 5th St, International Falls. Anyone who evacuates their home is asked to check in at the TECP so that residents can be accounted for.
Updates on flood response will be issued regularly or as new information becomes available.
Contact: Valerie Marasco Eliasen, Public Information Officer, Koochiching County Emergency Operations Center at 218-387-5700 or [email protected]