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Alexandria street department workers pumped water out of the ditch along Agnes Boulevard into the stormwater drainage system Wednesday afternoon. One lane on a section of the roadway near Kinkead Cemetery was barricaded after rapidly melting snow flooded the street. (Al Edenloff/Echo Press)

Temperature turnaround creates flooding problem in Alexandria

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ALEXANDRIA - A sudden 69-degree shift in temperatures created flooding problems in Douglas County this week.

Temperatures shot up from a low of 17-degrees below zero on March 12 to a high of 52 degrees on March 16.

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Because the ground and culverts were still frozen, all that rapidly melting snow had nowhere to go - but across yards, streets and boulevards.

The good news: As the ground warms, the flooding has ebbed.

"It peaked about two days ago," Alexandria City Engineer Tim Schoonhoven said on Wednesday. "For awhile there, it seemed every yard in town was flooded."

Some people may have leaped to the wrong conclusion that Alexandria's southwestern storm sewer project - which the city worked on last fall - was to blame for the flooding.

Schoonhoven, however, pointed out that Mother Nature and the still-frozen culverts were the real culprits.

Bryan Bjorgaard, Alexandria's public works coordinator, agreed, adding that street crews have been giving the city's lone steamer a big workout to get water flowing again.

"Normally we see a little slower melt," he said. "This year is odd."

Once the steamer is able to clear a small hole through the culvert, it doesn't take long for the water to start flowing.

Bjorgaard said the city's top priority is protecting people's property from flood damage. He said he wasn't aware of any homes that were badly damaged by flooding this week but added there could easily be water damage to homes that he didn't know about.

The city had to close off or barricade a few streets this week and crews had to log some overtime hours, Bjorgaard said.

Alexandria's storm water utility fee - a monthly charge paid by homeowners and businesses - helps the street department address flooding situations, Bjorgaard said.

"I hope the community knows that we're putting that money to good use preventing flooding and protecting lake quality," he said.

Warm temperatures are expected to continue today, Friday - the first day of spring, at least according to the calendar. The forecast calls for temperatures in the low 50s for the weekend.

But don't be dreaming of the beach just yet. More snow is in the long-range forecast for next week.

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