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City crews working overtime to prepare for flood threats

City Crew Member Eugene Wagaman uses the excavator tractor Monday afternoon to clear snow from the drain on the corner of West Third Avenue and Rowley Street. (Sam Fosness / Republic)1 / 3
City Crew Member Eugene Wagaman, left, drives the excavator tractor Monday afternoon to clear snow from the drain on the corner of West Third Avenue and Rowley Street, while City Crew Member John Rehfeldt guides him. (Sam Fosness / Republic)2 / 3
City Crew Member Eugene Wagaman, left, drives the excavator tractor Monday afternoon to clear snow from the drain on the corner of West Third Avenue and Rowley Street, while City Crew Member John Rehfeldt guides him. (Sam Fosness / Republic) 3 / 3

As heavy amounts of precipitation are expected to work their way into Mitchell by mid-week, city workers are racing against Mother Nature to keep the drains cleared.

With warmer temperatures causing the excess snow piled throughout the city to melt, storm drains are already having a hard time keeping up with the water flow, according to Street and Sanitation Superintendent Kevin Roth.

In hopes to avoid potential flooding, Roth said there will be roughly 15 city workers spending the next three days putting in overtime to clear inlets and drainage areas throughout Mitchell.

"The main thing is clearing all the inlets, and making sure all the catch basins are open to collect water," Roth said. "We are just trying to clear as much snow as we can for the drains to work effectively and not get blocked."

Clearing curb inlets and storm drains located at low-lying areas with high flood risk throughout Mitchell are the main priorities for the city crews, according to Roth.

Sanborn Boulevard, Havens Avenue and Minnesota Street are the areas of primary concern during the early stages of the drain clearing process.

"We have a lot of snow piled up all over town, and it's a timely process using the machinery to clear it from the inlets and drains," Roth said, noting many of the city crewmen will be working overtime this week. "We will be putting in serious hours over the next three days."

According to Brad Temeyer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, Mitchell is expected to see close to 2 inches of precipitation from Tuesday night into Thursday.

Temeyer predicts the near three-day weather system will change precipitation types, switching from snow to mostly rain or freezing rain. Aside from the heavy precipitation expected to hit Mitchell, Temeyer said the frozen ground could also cause significant issues during the snow melt.

Being proactive and trying to stay out in front of inclement weather is challenging enough for city crews, but patching up potholes in midst of wet conditions has added more headaches to keeping the streets of Mitchell safe.

"We've been patching potholes, and the patches aren't really staying in anymore because everything is so wet," Roth said. "It's not really patching season, but we want to eliminate any areas where water can pool up."

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