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Students lend a helping hand as battle against flooding continues

Sandbagging in International Falls
Sandbagging in International Falls(KBJR/CBS3 Duluth)
Published: May. 20, 2022 at 6:50 PM CDT
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INTERNATIONAL FALLS, MN -- Water levels continue to rise in the Rainy Lake basin as many lakes are already experiencing or approaching record flooding.

“Daily we kind of just decide which battle we fight today,” said Kari Hraban, co-owner of the Rainy Lake RV Park in Ranier, “It’s like a bad movie. You just are slowly watching everything you built and worked hard for just kind of get devoured by the lake.”

Based on Hraban’s estimates, the water has risen by more than 14 inches in the last 7 days, and they’re told it could rise 12 inches more by next week.

Hard work and help from the community has been a silver lining, though, for many property owners.

“It’s very heartwarming, seeing everyone help whoever needs it. It’s in times of struggle is when you really see the community come together,” she said.

Over in International Falls, locals have been volunteering their time to help fill and distribute sandbags.

With limited volunteers, the school district decided to lend a helping hand.

“It’s unfortunate situation but it’s a great way for us to give back to the community which supports us so much throughout the year,” said Kevin Grover, Superintendent of International Falls School District.

Students began helping sandbag at Kerry Park on Monday.

Over the last five days, they’ve consistently had classes shoveling and loading bags for distribution, sometimes tripling the number of volunteers on site.

“I can’t imagine how many bags the students and staff have done over this last week. It’s mind boggling without them where the community would be,” said Grover.

“They’re really appreciative of what we’re doing here so I’m glad to help out the community and put a smile on people’s faces,” said one student.

Starting Saturday, the National Guard will begin aiding in the sandbagging efforts in St. Louis and Koochiching Counties.

Water on the Rainy River Basin is expected to crest sometime next week, but any additional rainfall or runoff could change that projection.

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