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Too many sandbags? Great!

Sharon Hutchinson stands next to a line of sandbags put along Lake Pepin's shore nearly a month ago to protect six homes in case of a major flood. With no major flooding, bags aren't needed as much but she's still happy they were put there.

LAKE CITY — Once filled by the thousands in preparation for what might have been the worst flood in Lake City's history, sandbags are now guarding homes not threatened by high water, or stacked, unneeded, on pallets.

The lake is expected to come about 5 or 6 feet short of the worst scenario. But Sharon Hutchinson and John Yorde are still happy so many sandbags were available.

"Better safe than sorry," said Hutchinson, who lives with her husband, John, in one of six homes on South Lakeshore Drive on the lower side of Lake City.

If the lake had risen above the level of the record flood of 1965, the homes are low enough that they could have been flooded.

With that possible, about 60 volunteers showed up on March 19 to fill about 8,000 sandbags and place them along the shore. It was a warm day, and the homeowners made a big bash out of it with a cookout, she said. Had they waited even a week, the beach would have flooded and heavy equipment couldn't have been used to move the bags, Hutchinson said.


She also praised the city and Bruce Wallerich, the head of the city's Street and Parks Department, for helping out, such as giving each home 200 bags free and getting the rest to sell to them.

Today, the beach is under water and trees along the shore are surrounded by water outside the Hutchinson home. But the lake level does not pose a great threat.

However, waves can be a threat, she said. When the east wind pounds the lake, waves can smash into the riprap and damage or destroy it, she said.

"It's what happens when the water starts moving and getting angry," Hutchinson said. With the sandbags and plastic, the rock riprap is safe.

Yorde, the city's emergency management director, oversaw the filling of more than 3,000 sandbags about a month ago. Most of them are still on pallets.

Maybe they can store them somewhere for a future flood, he said.

And he's still not certain those bags won't be needed now. The river has been known to have more than one or two crests. Heavy rains up north could send the water higher than expected.

"We're going to wait and see what the crest is, make sure it really is going to be done before we decide what to do," he said.

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