MCGREGOR, Minn. - Hundreds of home and cabin owners are in a desperate fight to save their property on Big Sandy Lake, while others have walked away to let nature take its course.
"From last night it's gone up almost another foot," said Mark Allaman as he waded through water covering the road to his family's cabin.
Allaman and his wife Vicki are manning the pumps protecting their cabin, now ringed with sandbags and surrounded by several feet of water.
"We just got too much in it," said Allaman of the cabin that's been in his family for 48 years. "It's too hard to lose it."
Many of their neighbors have already pulled up stakes; some of their cabins have taken in water on the first floor. Docks are covered and only the canopies of boat lifts remain visible above the water.
More than 900 cabins ring the 6500 acre lake, second only in size to Mille Lacs Lake in Aitkin County.
By Allaman's estimate more than a quarter of the lake's cabins are flooded, "and there's some beautiful homes, that aren't just cabins that are underwater."
The flow of water out of the lake is regulated by the Army Corp of Engineers, but the agency is unable to release water any faster because of already high levels on the Mississippi River, according to Brian Johnson, a civil engineer with the Corp.
Workers from the local power company visited homes on foot and by boat Monday, cutting electricity where electrical meters were below or near the water level and in the process leaving some property owners without the ability to run their pumps.
"I should have put on a bathing suit," laughed 93-year-old Eileen Keen, who lives year-round in the cabin built by her family the year before she was born. She stood on the front step Monday evening, surrounded by water.
"I guess it's just part of living here, you have to take what comes," she said.
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