WATERVILLE, MINN. - Many residents here have left their homes behind, evacuating from the community of about 2,000 residents as area flooding grows worse and volunteers try to prevent the city's two main lakes from combining into one.

"People are working around the clock to save their homes," said Margo Boyd, a Waterville resident who watched as volunteers sandbagged her apartment building.

Resident Kenny King is one of those people — he hadn't slept for more than two days before he collapsed into bed Sunday night.

There were some losses — a friend of King's has his shop underwater at the moment — but some of the homes King helped protect are weathering the recent flooding even as nearby neighborhoods have taken on more than 2 feet of water.

"I'm so shot," he said, as he waited for child-care backup before heading out to sandbag again. "This is the worst flooding I can remember. Ever."

Residents and volunteers in Waterville and communities throughout Minnesota spent Monday trying to sandbag, pump and dig their way out of massive flooding caused by last week's storms.

National Guard members arrived here Monday afternoon to help take care of area lift stations moving wastewater from the city's two lakes, Sakatah and Tetonka. The state Department of Corrections also brought about 75 inmates in to help sandbag, while Minnesota Department of Transportation workers operated machinery to help move water off the roads. But more residents and supplies are needed.

State troopers are guarding nearby roadways, preventing would-be spectators from getting too close and creating extra waves. Officials are also concerned the Highway 13 bridge cutting through the two lakes and connecting the community north to south is starting to fail.

"We're finding our glitches, and we're fulfilling them," said Tammy Stewig, Le Sueur County's emergency management director.

Stewig said almost every community in Le Sueur County faces flood damage to wastewater infrastructure, but even more flooding is expected after the nearby Rapidan Dam just west of Mankato partially failed Monday afternoon.

That will affect residents in lower-lying Minnesota River valley areas, compounding the damage to already-flooded streets and homes.

Residents at the Parkside North Apartments in Waterville are worried the once-dry creek bed near their home will overflow into their ranch-style building if the dam breaks. They couldn't reach their building owners all weekend and finally had to contact city officials Monday to get volunteers out to their homes.

The water has less than a foot to go in some places before the building gets flooded out, just like some of the nearby homes just a few feet away.

"If it crests again, it's going to go over," Cheryl Engel said. "No ifs, ands or buts about it."

East of Waterville, the Cannon River crested early Monday at 901.5 feet in Northfield — tying the record set from that city's historic 2010 flooding.

The Cannon has already flooded out roads and a few homes south of Northfield in nearby Dundas. Farther south, officials in Faribault continued to close city streets due to flooding.

Faribault received about 10 inches of rain between June 12 and Monday, according to Rice County officials. The community has gotten more than 28 inches thus far in 2024 – the average rainfall by this time of year is about 15-16 inches.

Across the state, farmers are dealing with makeshift ponds and swamps springing up in their fields which could also get worse as the week goes on.

In northeastern Minnesota, the St. Louis River near Cloquet is in danger of flooding through Tuesday afternoon. Sandbagging has begun.

As of Sunday night, floodwaters in hard-hit Cook, Minn., have receded, but Biwabik was still experiencing flooding, St. Louis County reported. More than 30 roads throughout the county remain closed, mostly in the northern half. The county has so far collected 1,000 damage reports between public infrastructure and private property.

The Superior National Forest warns of scattered blowdown on the eastern side of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) and the national forest, and fast-moving rivers and streams throughout, with some continuing to rise. The Forest Service announced Monday night more than 20 road closures as well as the entry point into the BWCAW as it works to fix damage.

Another round of storms is expected to wash over Minnesota late Monday, discouraging to residents and volunteers in Waterville who wonder how much more they can take.

"Just tell them to pray for us," Engel said. "We need that big time."

Star Tribune staff writers Jana Hollingsworth and Christopher Vondracek contributed to this report.