Authorities in Jordan worked over the weekend to break down ice jams that have caused flooding in some parts of the city and have especially impacted the Valley Green Park mobile home community.
Jordan police said in a news release that water levels spiked quickly over the weekend, at around 11.8 feet, the highest peak since the water level reached just over 12 feet in the early morning hours of March 15. A secondary ice dam formed on the Highway 169 bridge over Sand Creek, creating additional backup of water in the city, the Jordan Police Department said.
Jordan Public Works, with help and heavy equipment from S.M. Hentges & Sons Inc., worked to free the newly formed ice dam on the Highway 169 bridge early Sunday afternoon.
"As soon as the ice dam was cleared and water was able to flow freely under the bridge water levels on the east side of Hwy 169 quickly dropped by nearly three feet," the department said in the release. "Sand Creek water levels on the north side of Valley Green Park however remain high as crews continue to work on removing and pushing more of the ice downstream past the mobile home park."
About 13 residents remain at an emergency Red Cross shelter while nine pets are still in an emergency pet shelter, police said.
Crews have been working on clearing the ice dams for days.
"The head of the ice jam was located (Friday) in a very treacherous and dangerous area northeast of city limits, and area deemed too dangerous for heavy equipment, boats, and other methods to safely reach at this time," the department posted on its Facebook page Friday.
The trailer park underwent a voluntary evacuation Thursday night. About half of the community's 300 units were evacuated after 2-3 feet of floodwater from Sand Creek impacted many homes in the areas, the department said. Police said earlier Friday they hoped to have everyone home later that day.
At approximately 5:15 p.m., the ice jam apparently loosened itself as there was a very quick two-foot drop in water levels, the department said, adding it believes the ice jam is clogged in another location backing flood waters up again.
Attempting to travel by vehicle in and out of Valley Green Park is still not advised, as water levels are still at a point where most passenger vehicles are unable to successfully pass, the department said.
The National Weather Service said Thursday an ice jam in Sand Creek, which runs alongside the trailer park — and recent rainfall — are to blame for the flooding. The Jordan Police Department said Friday morning creek levels appear to be dropping. Law enforcement is still encouraging residents not to attempt to enter or exit Valley Green Park as high waters are keeping the entrance impassable.
"Cars and trucks are unable to get through this area," a post to the department's Facebook page said. "Your vehicle will become stuck in flood waters if you attempt to drive in this area."
Valley Green Park, which contains about 300 mobile homes, went under voluntary evacuation Thursday evening due to the flooding. The Jordan Police Department said a large ice dam formed around 5:45 p.m. Thursday in Sand Creek, northeast of the city of Jordan. The ice dam caused water levels to rise "extremely quick," causing water from the creek to flood over Syndicate Street and into the northern half of Valley Green Park. Water levels in the flooded areas of the community ranged from 2 to 3 feet in depth. No injuries were reported. Efforts to remove the ice dam at the time were taken, but were not successful, police said.
Jordan High School opens its doors
Some residents were taken by bus to Jordan High School Thursday night.
As residents trickled in to the high school, they were asked to sign in at a table up front. A movie played on a large projector screen for children. An ambulance was on scene and authorities are keeping an eye on anyone with medical needs and provided help to those who may have left medication at home.
American Red Cross volunteers were on scene, helping with matters. According to a news release from the organization, volunteers are helping 36 residents from the mobile home community. The volunteers are providing immediate emergency needs, including emotional support and help with long-term recovery planning, the release said.
Some residents decided to stay behind.
Valley Green Park resident Rochelle Nygaard said when emergency alert came on for voluntary evacuations, she had to opt to stay home. Residents were only allowed to depart in buses, and with one child sick with the flu and another with a handful of medical equipment that would have to be moved, boarding a bus didn't seem the best route.
"When the emergency alert came over that they were evacuating, I said I'm not going anywhere," she said.
The street behind her house is flooded.
"It would have had to have risen another 10-plus feet for it to have affected my house," she said. "I'm more concerned for my neighbors.
Nygaard has lived in the neighborhood for 35 years, she said, and while there was once a close call, she has never retained damage from floods.
The National Weather Service said the flood stage was around 11 feet. A flood warning is in effect until Saturday afternoon. The river level should continue to slowly fall to below flood stage through Friday, according to the NWS. Residents are discouraged from driving through flooded areas.
CLOSURE UPDATE:— Scott County MN (@ScottCountyMN) March 15, 2019
Valley Green mobile home park (Jordan): Crews are evacuating Valley Green park in Jordan; ice jams have formed, causing the creek to overflow its banks. A shelter is being opened at the Jordan High School.
Scott County Sheriff Luke Hennen said pets will be sheltered separately at the SCALE Regional Public Safety facility in Jordan. Jordan police said 17 pets were evacuated Thursday.
Valley Green Park in Jordan also underwent voluntary evacuation in 2014 due to flooding during heavy rains. Residents were taken to Jordan High School back then, too.
In December, the Jordan City Council heard about its options for mitigating flooding in low-lying areas of town, all of which would involve building a levee at a cost of $6 million to $9.6 million.
“It’s a big dollar amount to swallow,” City Administrator Tom Nikunen said at the time. He added he thought the council should consider it to appease Jordan residents who complain about having to buy flood insurance.
The city received two grants to do a feasibility report on flood control improvements that would benefit properties in lowertown Jordan. Among the things the preliminary engineering analysis looked at were:
• Raising and widening the Highway 282 and 169 and Frontage Road bridges along Sand Creek.
• Constructing two alternative floodwater bypasses with large box culvert systems through the Whispering Meadows development from Sand Creek to the large wetland complex along Highway 169.
• Constructing three segments of certified levies along Sand Creek between Highway 282 and Syndicate Street.
The report concluded that raising/widening those bridges or building floodwater bypasses wouldn’t significantly help guard against flooding. And rerouting floodwater around much of lowertown Jordan would lower the need for levies by only about 4 inches.
Building a certified clay levee along Sand Creek between Varner Street and Syndicate Street was deemed to be feasible and the most cost-effective solution. The levee would be 3 to 6 feet high.
The report found that when Sand Creek is at flood stage, certified levees would keep the floodwater from entering the city, although the city’s storm sewer system would need to be plugged during floods to keep floodwater from traveling up storm sewer pipes and causing flooding.
Lara Bockenstedt and Deena Winter contributed to this report.
This is a developing story. Check swnewsmedia.com for updates.