Red River flooding: Oslo is an island -- again; Bridge connecting Climax-Buxton closes
The community of Oslo, Minn., has been cut off from the outside world again, as rising water forced the closing Saturday afternoon of Minnesota Highway 1, the last highway entrance into this town of 300 on the Red River.
The road was closed at about 4:30 p.m., according to the Marshall County Sheriff's Department.
The west entrance, across the Red from N.D. Highway 54, has been closed since Friday. Only local traffic is being allowed over the highway bridge over the Red River.
At 7:15 p.m. Saturday, the Red River at Oslo was at 37.74 feet, just short of the expected 38-foot crest, according to the National Weather Service office in Grand Forks.
Minnesota National Guard troops were in the Marshall County community to patrol the ring dike surrounding the town tonight. Local volunteers are walking the dike during daylight hours.
"So far, so good," Oslo flood coordinator Scott Kosmatka said Saturday. "Water's been coming up pretty good. We'll see how things progress overnight and we'll reassess in the morning."
The weather service indicated that Oslo could be affected by ice jams, which could cause river level fluctuations over the next few days.
"It's different again this year," Kosmatka said. "Right now, there's not much ice that we can see. It's just different."
Meanwhile, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., will visit the Red River Valley today, stopping in East Grand Forks and communities to meet with local officials and support community volunteers who have been preparing for flood waters along the river.
However, Oslo was not on the list of visits, as of late Saturday afternoon.
Klobuchar will stop in East Grand Forks at 3:30 p.m. at the Sorlie Memorial Bridge on DeMers Avenue.
Her first stop in the valley will be in Moorhead at 10:45 a.m. Then, she will visit other Minnesota communities on her way to East Grand Forks. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty also is scheduled to visit East Grand Forks today; he's also in town to speak to the North Dakota State Republican Convention in Grand Forks' Alerus Center.
In another flood development, the Red River bridge between Climax, Minn., and Buxton, N.D., was closed Saturday.
At least 16 roads in Polk County closed or remained closed Saturday, as floodwaters spread out from the Red River and tributaries. Some overland flooding also was reported.
Late Saturday, the Kennedy Bridge on Gateway Drive remained the only Red River bridge open between Grand Forks and East Grand Forks.
To the south, the nearest open bridge over the Red River is west of Halstad, Minn., which links Norman County Road 147 with N.D. Highway 200.
To the north of Grand Forks, the nearest open bridge over the Red is at Drayton, N.D., where N.D. Highway 66 links with Minnesota Highway 9.
Kevin Bonham is a reporter at the Grand Forks Herald, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.