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Blizzard adds to weather woes in upper Midwest

residents April 7, 1997
Web posted at: 2:17 p.m. EDT (1817 GMT)

MONTEVIDEO, Minnesota (CNN) -- Residents of the upper Midwest were digging out Monday from a spring blizzard that began as rain and changed to heavy snow over the weekend.

For parts of Minnesota, the spring snows brought a double whammy to a region already battling floods caused by runoff from melting winter snow.

"We've been planning for the flood since January, so the planing has frankly paid off," said Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson. "But the combination of snow and ice along with melting and rain has really hurt us. Many people say this is the worst they've ever seen."

Carlson said the state was still trying to assess the damage, and that he anticipated asking for disaster relief.

The blizzard hampered sandbagging efforts along rivers in the state -- and the new snows probably mean more flooding later.


- Minnesota Gov. Arne Carleson reacts to the high flood waters -

icon(323K/15 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)

"It's cold and it's wet," said 28-year-old Becky Henderson. "I don't remember a blizzard like this in April, not to mention water like this."

river

Montevideo Mayor Jim Curtiss said volunteers were working to reinforce levees along the Chippewa and Minnesota Rivers, which merge in the town of 5,500 about 110 miles west of Minneapolis.

"We're going to do some precautionary sandbagging ... in case any ice starts hitting (the levees)," he said.

A 15-foot high chunk of ice became a road block Sunday when it left the river and ran up on the road from Lac qui Parle Lake near Milan.

The snows left parts of the Dakotas, Wyoming and Montana under as much as 3 feet of white over the weekend. Roads were closed, stranding travelers along highways with wind-blown snow and drifts up to 20 feet high.

Heavy rains also caused serious flooding in Arkansas over the weekend, which was blamed for at least four deaths. Rivers in the state are expected to rise through the week.

 
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