Rising floodwater inches toward businesses in Fountain City

Volunteers continue to prepare sandbags

Business owners and residents are piling sandbags around their properties in anticipation of rising river levels. The Mississippi River crossed over into flood stage levels in the Fountain City area and is expected to continue rising through next week.

While the current flood forecasts are more favorable now, people living along parts of the Mississippi are not quite in the clear yet. Since they’ve encountered flooding like this in the past, they know what to do this time around.

It’s a sight that Mike Schabacker has seen before. In April 2011, the river crested almost two feet over flood stage levels at 661.8 feet.

If the river rises as the National Weather Service is predicting, it could surpass that level as early as Sunday.

“Couple inches’ difference but, for the most part, it’s the same predictions,” said Schabacker, co-owner of the WingDam Saloon and Grill.

While his business was built to take on the water at a steady pace to prevent a collapse, he has pumps at the ready and a barrier built to withstand rising water.

“The back part of the wall is about 16 feet tall, and then it tapers down to road level that you see up front here,” Schabacker said.

Area residents, businesses and college students have been helping fill sandbags since last weekend. A group of students from Minnesota State College Southeast were outside the post office filling bags Wednesday morning.

“We all volunteered since we didn’t work today and [were] in between classes,” said Kale Hutkowski, a sales and retail management student.

Hutkowski also chipped in earlier this week.

“We were here from about 12 to 7 o’clock at night doing sandbagging,” Hutkowski said.

These bags are ready for property owners to grab when needed, especially if the water continues to inch closer.

“As you can see, there’s a decline in the highway right here, so the water levels are supposed to come here. Just trying to protect all the buildings around here,” Hutkowski said.

Schabacker is thankful for all the volunteers who have helped businesses like his brace for flooding once again.

“The volume of people who were willing to come out is just amazing, and it’s very, very good to see,” Schabacker said.

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