MINNEAPOLIS — With 240 guests expected, Luke Fischer and Rachel Smith weren't about to let the widespread flooding in southern Minnesota get in the way of their wedding Saturday.
The 24-year-olds, who live in the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park, went back to her hometown of Waseca to get married at the Church of the Sacred Heart. Their reception was about 10 miles away at the Owatonna Country Club, in a city where 70 homes had to be evacuated.
"We're pretty happy we don't have to take a duck boat to the reception," a relieved Fischer joked a few hours before the nuptials.
With the Owatonna area drying out, officials at the state's Emergency Operations Center said the focus Saturday included Zumbro Falls and Hammond in southeastern Minnesota, and St. Clair and Madelia in south-central Minnesota. Across the border, concern shifted to the rising Wisconsin River in central Wisconsin.
A slow march of thunderstorms across southern Minnesota through central Wisconsin from Wednesday through Friday dumped several inches of rain across the region. Storm totals between 5 and 7 inches were common, with 10.86 inches at Amboy in south-central Minnesota. The governors of both states declared states of emergency.
In Owatonna, a town of about 24,000 about 65 miles south of Minneapolis, Maple Creek, Turtle Creek and the Straight River were receding Saturday. Emergency Operations Manager Mike Johnson said he didn't expect levels to rise, despite some rain in the forecast.
In Wabasha County, Zumbro Falls and Hammond continued to report heavy flooding Saturday. Residents were evacuated from both cities Friday, and the Zumbro River was continuing to rise Saturday, officials said.
The Post-Bulletin of Rochester reported that Zumbro Falls, where 180 people were forced to leave their homes, remained deserted Saturday.
In Blue Earth County, St. Clair asked residents to avoid using water, including their toilets and drains, because high water on the Le Sueur River was causing the sanitary sewer system to fail. State authorities were responding to the city's request for 50,000 additional sandbags Saturday. In Watonwan County, crews in Madelia sandbagged four homes to protect them from the rising Watonwan River.
In central Wisconsin, Columbia County Emergency Management asked people living in Blackhawk Park near Portage and in any low-lying areas near the Wisconsin River to relocate. Deputy director Kathy Johnson said no evacuations have been ordered. She said they're "just strongly encouraging" people in low-lying areas along the river to leave.
Johnson said the main concern was that if the river rises too high, the road leading into Blackhawk Park would be cut off. The gates on the Wisconsin Dells Dam were wide open to release the heavy flow.
The Stevens Point (Wis.) Journal reported that most of Stevens Point escaped flooding, but close to 30 roads in the area, including some major thoroughfares, remained closed due to waters that weren't expected to recede until today. Officials in Wisconsin Rapids urged people to avoid the downtown area to keep it free for emergency crews.
But the town of Arcadia, Wis., was starting to clean up after the Trempealeau River and its tributaries forced the evacuations of more than 340 homes Thursday and Friday. Most residents had been allowed back into their homes by Saturday and the main highways in the area were open again, the Trempealeau County sheriff's office said.