People driving small cars are advised not to travel on Highway 81 at Lake Poinsett

Local News

Highway 81 at Lake Poinsett is open Thursday night, but officials say the water is getting too deep for small cars.

Hamlin County Emergency Manager Dave Schaefer says the lake crossing is risky because Poinsett is unpredictable, rising and falling like the tide.

It looks like cars are driving right through the middle of Lake Poinsett.

“You get a car out in the middle of that and you get a semi, because we do have a lot of traffic here, that can affect your vehicle.” Hamlin County Emergency Manager Dave Schaefer said.

That’s why even though the road is open to all traffic, Schaefer says he recommends people in small cars think twice before crossing.

The water here is trending deeper, but Schaefer says it ebbs and flows like the tide.

“The wind has a very distinct effect on the depth of the water here. If the wind is blowing out of the east the water seems to rise,” said Schaefer.

The other variable affecting the tide here is rain.

“Normally we wouldn’t think that much about a forecast of a quarter to a half inch of rain but our ground is totally saturated. We have no room for any more water. Any rain that falls just makes the situation that much worse,” said Schaefer.

“I got a little shower before I started my day at work, but it’s alright.” Watertown driver Chuck Baechler said

Chuck Baechler learned the hard way not drive a convertible through the water on 81. At least not with the top down.

Baecherler says, “once you get into it, you got to finish it. I mean there’s no backing up so it was a little deep and it did come over the top a little bit, which I didn’t expect. I did get soaked, yes I did.”

Schaefer says getting washed off the road at night would be dangerous and people in cars should strongly consider turning around.

Schaefer says, “if it was my family members or friends, I would encourage them to find an alternative route if they’re in a small car.”   

At least until the tide rolls out. 

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