City water in Rushford, Minn., has been contaminated with E. coli bacteria because of last week's flooding, and the public was warned Friday not to use it until further notice.
"Use for drinking, cooking, bathing, washing clothing or dishes, or any other purpose, will threaten the user's health," said a notice from Fillmore County officials.
City water has been activated for fire and hydrant flushing and disinfection purposes, but it is not yet safe for any domestic use, the notice continued. Water pressure has returned, but all main lines are currently being flushed to reduce contaminants.
Also, residents should not run water or flush toilets, the county warned, because that could harm plumbing.
Public damage assessed
The total cost of flood damage to roads, bridges, sewer systems, libraries and other government infrastructure in southern Minnesota topped $26 million, according to an initial review of the flood zone by federal, state and local officials.
Fillmore County was the hardest hit of the six counties affected. It sustained $12 million in damages to publicly owned properties. Houston County was next with $6 million; followed by Winona County, $2.3 million; Olmsted County, $1.5 million; Steele County, $400,000, and Wabasha County, $82,000. Damage to state parks was estimated at $4.3 million.
More than half of the 1,500 homes affected sustained major damage or were destroyed.
The initial numbers were released Friday after teams of federal, state and local officials finished their initial disaster assessment.
Diocese offers counseling
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Winona is providing free mental health counseling to those affected by the flooding. For more information, please contact Catholic Charities at 1-507-454-2270 or 1-507-287-2047.
By area: A big one
Last weekend's flood appears to be the state's second-largest in area. About 14,000 square miles of southern Minnesota received at least 4 inches of rain, second to the storm of June 9-10, 2002, according to initial "back-of- the-envelope" calculations by the Star Tribune and assistant state climatologist Greg Spoden.
The 2002 storm dropped 4 inches or more of rain over 15,000 square miles of northwestern Minnesota.
Both easily top what history had called the "granddaddy of flash floods," a July 1972 pummeling centered on Little Falls. That covered 6,800 miles with at least 4 inches of rain.
ALLIE SHAH, PAUL WALSH AND WARREN WOLFE