Sheriff says wind, water doing great damage to roads in the Lake Region

Mike Bellmore, Features Editor
Those who must drive on the Graham’s Island road know that this warning is an understatement. On Tuesday, the road was closed because heavy winds brought debris and water on the road, making it impassable. Highway 57, south of Devils Lake, was also closed because of the conditions.

Ramsey County Sheriff Steve Nelson was on “wind patrol” Tuesday.

Nelson checked out the Grahams Island road, which was eventually closed for the day.

He deemed it in “terrible” condition, with the estimated 60 mph wind gusts tossing tree branches, rocks and other debris up on the road.

They weren’t small rocks either, nor were they small tree braches.

Similar conditions existed literally all day and into the night on the southern end of the lake, including Highway 57 and points south of the Spirit Lake Casino.

“The whole county’s in a mess,” the sheriff said. “There’s roads under water that we’ve never seen under water before.”

Nelson said that between Devils Lake and Churchs Ferry, it’s virtually impossible to travel north. The same goes for the Webster area. South of Churchs  Ferry is said to be another mess, and northeast of Devils Lake as well.

That leads to difficulty for his deputies and himself to patrol in the county and respond to any potential emergency situations.

Water seems to just coming back into areas and not draining into sloughs like in the past. That’s likely due to a high water table in the region.

“And there’s so much stuff going on, it’s even hard to find contractors for some of the smaller projects in the region,” added Nelson.

FEMA has been excrutiatingly slow in responding with payments to area contractors as well, some say.

Nelson says the water problems have not adversely affected his job or his patrols yet.

“We get there, but we have to be selective and be prepared to go the extra miles if we have to,” he adds.