Minnesota News

Floodwaters wash away Hokah couple's wedding venue

Houston County flooding causes more than $2 million in damage

HOKAH, Minn. - Allen Ganrude and Sue Thiede holds hands as they scope out the damage in Como Falls Park Monday afternoon.

"Oh it's gone down a lot," said Thiede as she looks out at the river running through the space where she planned to marry Ganrude on Sunday.

"You can see some of the decorations there that were in the tent," said Thiede, pointing to a soggy paper lantern in the mud.

That was before the floodwaters washed away their wedding venue.

"I got a call from the city of Hokah at 7:00 yesterday in the morning saying that the tent had four-feet of water in it and that it was not going to be available for our wedding," said Thiede.

Clearly, Mother Nature had other plans.

"Well, it just kind of made me sick, I mean, really. All the decorating was done and everything just got swept down the river," said Thiede.


The wedding wasn't the only thing to get washed out in Houston County.

"Mother Nature can really throw a curveball at us," said Houston County Emergency Management Deputy Sheriff Kurt Kuhlers.

Houston County officials are looking at more than $2 million in storm damage.

More than a dozen roads are still closed in Houston County. The swollen river is swallowing up the asphalt as road crews struggle to keep up.

Houston County has declared a state of emergency, which allows the highway department to bring in private contractors to patch up damaged areas without going through the bid process.

"We've lost a lot of roadways. We have a lot of wash-outs. That's why we're telling people that travel is extremely treacherous in the county right now. Not all the roads have been reported that have issues," said Kuhlers.

It's leaving some townships deciding whether to patch up those roads now or wait for the rest of the storms coming toward them to pass.

"There's more rain in the forecast. We are saturated at the county level. We can't take a lot more moisture. The rivers are at their peaks. So if we get anymore -- small amounts of rain are going to cause some issues for us," said Kuhlers.

As for the newlyweds, they spent the first day of their honeymoon cleaning up their makeshift reception hall -- the Hokah Fire Department.

"I mean, it's too bad it didn't work out. But we still got married," said Thiede.

"That's what counts," said Ganrude with a laugh.

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