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'Stressed out and tired': Unprecedented Rainy River Basin flooding not letting up

Koochiching County Sheriff Perryn Hedlund said they're putting out up to 50,000 sandbags per day but at the end of the night, "there's not a single sandbag left."

RANIER, Minnesota — Historic flooding continues in northern Minnesota across the Rainy River Basin. 

"I'm feeling like we're overwhelmed but you can't quit," said Tara Nelson, owner of Tara's Wharf Ice Cream Shop and Rainy Lake Inn in Ranier, Minn. 

Nelson said her entire building is about to be surrounded by water. 

"The first floor of the boat house, which is adjacent to the ice cream shop, is underwater. The main part of my building is still about four inches above water but the way the water came up last night and the forecast, I expect it won't be very long," Nelson said. 

She's had to put her businesses on hold as the water keeps rising. The building currently does not have heat or hot water. 

While volunteers, friends and family have been helping her sandbag around the property, there's not much else she can do. Nelson is focused now on getting items out of the building and into storage. 

RELATED: Historic flooding causes widespread problems for northern Minnesota

"It's not in toothpicks and it's not in ashes so I consider myself fortunate," Nelson said. 

Koochiching County Sheriff Perryn Hedlund said on Friday Rainy Lake water levels surpassed the 1950 record. 

"Since that time we've risen a couple inches. We're rising anywhere from a half-inch to an inch a day," Sheriff Hedlund said. 

The flooding has impacted more than 900 structures in the county, including 500 homes. About 250 homes have been damaged in some shape or form. About 15 commercial structures have been damaged. 

Sheriff Hedlund says they are not forcing evacuations but encourage them when closing roads. 

"They're not going to get propane delivery, water delivery. Fire, EMS, law enforcement, those services will still come but they're going to be delayed... could be substantial delays in some cases. We're still going to come, it just might take us a little bit to get there. We might have to wade through high water or get a boat to get to them," Sheriff Hedlund said. 

On Sunday, the temporary evacuation check-in point moved to International Falls High School. The Northeast Region Pet Sheltering Trailer has also been brought in and has equipment and supplies to accommodate up to 50 pets. Pet sheltering is available in the hockey arena on the school campus to keep pets and owners together after evacuation. 

Those needing immediate shelter assistance may call 218-240-4418. 

"The focus is on continuing to provide sandbags to the residences and businesses in need. We're putting out in between probably 40,000-50,000 per day at this time. But usually at the end of the night there's not a single sandbag left on the ground," Sheriff Hedlund said. 

The Minnesota National Guard is also helping with sandbagging. 

But with the water expected to keep rising for at least the next couple of weeks, Sheriff Hedlund said, "Our community is grateful for all the help we have received but we do need additional help at this point." 

They need more volunteers for sandbagging. However, for those not able to sandbag, Sheriff Hedlund recommends donating to the American Red Cross or The Salvation Army as both organizations are in the area supporting residents. 

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