Evacuations at Lake Poinsett after levee breach

Local News

A broken levee sent water flooding into a mobile home park and campground Wednesday at Lake Poinsett.

Thursday the 27 people who live there are trying to figure out if they need to find new homes or just ride it out, one wet ride at a time.

“Somebody call for a ‘Lyft driver’? Yes, alright,” Lake Poinsett Estates Manager Vic Erlacher said.

Erlacher became a so-called “Lyft driver” of sorts when the property he manages flooded without warning.

“Yesterday this whole mobile home court was literally dry. When the levee broke, within a half hour we had eight to 10 inches of water through it and it continued to go up,” Erlacher said.

Now, the only way in and out of Lake Poinsett estates is in a big pickup or Erlacher’s four-wheeler.

“I go around and pick people up, pick them up at their steps, take them to where their vehicles are parked which you can see is around here and then go back if somebody else calls me and then get them again. It’s the only way out of here, you can’t get in and out with a car,” Erlacher said.

Which is why we had to float in on Erlacher’s four-wheeler to interview Ken and Kathy Sawnson, who are completely surrounded by water.

“Oh my god, we just about tipped over. Did you see us just about tip over? You just stand there and laugh,” said Erlacher.

The Swanson’s moved into the home just two months ago.

“Lake front property, always wanted it, now I got it. It’s a setback, but it’ll dry out, the water will go down,” home owner Ken Swanson said.

The Swanson’s plan to stay put for now as long as they have electricity, but others have decided to bail.

“Some have went to live in Arlington, some went to stay with friends and relatives,” Erlacher said.

But as bad as it is here, Erlacher feels even worse for the people on Poinsett getting pounded by wave after wave after wave.

“The wind is our enemy. When the wind gets up to 25 miles per hour, the houses are getting battered,” Erlacher said.

So why would anybody stick around with all of this water? The Swanson’s say lake living is still relaxing.

“The stress level is zero, even with the flood,” Ken Swanson said.

“The stress level is so relaxing when you get up here it’s so stress free. I love the people around here, the atmosphere, the animals,” Cathy Swanson said

And a free lift. 

“I’m the Lyft driver for here, except I’m not making much money at it, I didn’t even get a tip yet,” Erlacher said. 

Hamlin County’s Emergency Manager says you might want to think twice about driving a small car through the water on Highway 81 at Lake Poinsett.

The road is open to traffic with a five mile per hour speed limit, but the water is getting deep for small vehicles to make it through.

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