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Detroit Lakes streets are flooding with rain, snowmelt; city asks people to drive cautiously

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A van passed through a deep puddle on Summit Avenue near Zorbaz Thursday afternoon. The city Public Works Department showed up shorty after to clear the frozen catch basin to allow the water to drain. Kaysey Price / Tribune2 / 4
A public works crew blasts highly-pressurized water into the catch basin, to clear out the frozen blockage and allow the water to drain properly. Kaysey Price / Tribune3 / 4
Water puddles on Frazee Street East in front of the Holiday Inn Thursday, as rain and snowmelt are unable to drain through frozen catch basins. Kaysey Price / Tribune4 / 4

Some isolated flooding incidents have been disrupting traffic around town today, Thursday, March 14. The rain from Wednesday into today, coupled with quite a bit of snowmelt runoff, is overflowing from storm drain catch basins that have frozen up in Detroit Lakes, causing big puddles to collect on some streets.

Public Works Director Brad Green says this is all just part of winter in Minnesota, and the City Public Works department is doing its best to get around and pop the tops off the basins and clear the ice out to allow them to drain properly.

The department has been servicing streets based on traffic flow, so they temporarily closed off the Roosevelt underpass beneath Highway 10 this afternoon to get the catch basin cleared and to pump out the excess water that had collected there. That street is now all ready for the heavy traffic flow it sees after school lets out.

Frazee Street East in front of the Holiday Inn also has puddles collecting there, so the department is on the scene. They also just started working on Summit Avenue over by Zorbaz, where a deep puddle is stretching all the way across the street, forcing drivers to turn around or risk stalling their car.

"If you see water, don't drive through it fast. Either find another street, or go through it slow .... We don't want people to stall their car .... Just be careful driving this time of year with a melt like this," said Green, adding that not only could these puddles cause cars to stall, they may also cover pot holes that could damage vehicles further.

Green also reminded drivers to be considerate of pedestrians, too, and to make sure not to cause excessive splashing as they haul through these massive puddles.

The public works crew members will make its way around town as these puddles pop up, says Green, adding that the workers are putting in overtime to keep the streets safe.

"We pop them as we go. We just deal with them. We try to be proactive. We know where the storm drains are," said Green, adding that there isn't a whole lot the public can do, because these basins freeze underground.

Although, Green did add that keeping storm drains clear is never a bad idea. He also said that keeping vehicles off streets when it snows helps them keep the streets clear, thus keeping the storm drains clear, too.

"These spring snows are wet and heavy," said Green, adding that the dense snow makes keeping things clear more difficult.

With the freeze-thaw of spring, more of these puddles could pop up, Green says. The department is asking for the public's patience as they make their way around to clear the frozen basins. They will also do their best to put up lit barricades at night, if they are unable to clear the streets during the day.

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