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Preparing and reducing risk for potential spring floods

Mar 31, 2023 08:42AM ● By Content Editor

Photo: Ulrik Ramsing


From the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources - By Ceil Strauss, DNR, State Floodplain Manager - March 31, 2023


Reducing flood risk is always important. But with the current wet conditions, and higher probability of flooding in the spring, there is heightened interest in actions we can take to reduce your risk.

Related: Will Cook County and Grand Portage see flooding this spring?

Steps everyone can take

Hydrograph showing forecasted elevations heading to major flood stage
  • Monitor local water level conditions - Sign up for alerts from your community and the National Weather Service (NWS). Check the NWS river gage locations in Minnesota and select gages in your area to view current river levels, forecasts and outlooks. Note: Sample view of gage with observed and forecasted river levels (to right).
  • Consider purchasing flood insurance - Anyone in a community that participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) can purchase flood insurance. Those with homes & businesses in the low and medium risk areas can purchase the discounted Preferred Risk Policy. Note: there is a 30-day waiting period for the policy to be effective. See more information at www.floodsmart.gov.
  • Build smart - Follow your community's floodplain, shoreland management and other local zoning requirements (including minimum elevations) for new construction, additions, or improvements of buildings, and any grading or other development.

Additional steps for communities:

  • Adopt or update local Emergency Action Plans.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has a Community Resources Toolbox with links to preparation guidelines and resources.
  • Action Plans to Reduce Damage (especially for those at greater risk) - Move belongings to higher levels. Save back-up records off-site. Consider needed flood fighting options such as pumps, sandbags, berms, or other protection in advance.
  • Determine flood response priorities - Where will detours and temporary dikes and sandbagging be needed? What critical facilities - i.e., utilities, nursing homes, hospitals, government response centers - are most at risk? When are evacuations triggered?
  • Think about long-term mitigation options - What projects are in your county's (or community's) latest All Hazard Plan? Learn more at the resource links below.

For more information:

On the DNR Floodplain Program site:

On the Minnesota Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management site, learn more about hazard mitigation planning, the State Hazard Mitigation Plan, success stories, and FEMA grant programs.   

Note: This is an update of an article in the December 2019 Water Talk