MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Flash flooding forces Camping Boy Scouts to evacuate
PRESTON, Minn. -- The weekend storms caused flash floods in southeastern Minnesota, closing highways in Fillmore and Houston Counties, and also led to the evacuation of a group of Boy Scouts on a camping trip near Whalan. The Minnesota Department of Transportation closed Highway 43 between Mabel and Choice because of water over the road. High water at the Yucatan Bridge has also closed Highway 76 between Houston and Caledonia "until further notice," and Highway 16 is closed east of Houston. The area received about a foot of rain in three days. Six boys and two adult leaders from a Scout troop in Plainview were in their tents when the water started rising, and had to evacuate as their tents and belongings washed away. Nobody was hurt.
Xcel Energy crews continue working to restore power to the thousands of Minnesotans who have been in the dark as a result of the weekend's severe storms. At the height of the power outage nearly 600,000 homes and businesses homes and businesses were in the dark, but now all but about 72,000 have been restored. Xcel Energy spokesman Tom Hoen says the widespread damage is on a scale unlike any he's seen. And he says it's been a challenge for the more the thousand-or-so line workers to do their work because they're having to move full-grown, toppled trees in order to fix downed power lines. Hoen says crews will be on the ground for 16-hour shifts, working around the clock, and with improved weather they expect to move more quickly toward restoration. Most customers should be back online by Wednesday afternoon, but some will remain without power until Wednesday evening.
Former Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Zellers launched his campaign for governor Sunday. The 43-year-old Maple Grove Republican led the House for two years before the GOP lost control of the state legislature in November 2012. Zellers joins a growing field of candidates. Businessman Scott Honour and Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson are also running for the 2014 Republican gubernatorial nomination. And GOP state senator Dave Thompson of Lakeville has indicated he will formally announce his candidacy on Wednesday.
Funeral services for Minnesota author Vince Flynn are this morning (Mon) in his hometown of St. Paul. A celebration of life and Mass of Christian burial for Flynn is at 10:30 a.m. at the Cathedral of St.Paul. There's a visitation for family and friends before the Mass from 9 to 10:30 in Saint Joseph's Chapel. Forty-seven-year-old Flynn died last Wednesday following a long battle with prostate cancer. He wrote 14 political thriller novels most centered around undercover C-I-A agent Mitch Rapp, and sold more than 15-million books. Vince leaves behind a wife and three children.
A 26-year-old woman is fighting for her life after her car left the road and landed upside down in a swamp near Vining. Sheriff's deputies say other drivers pulled 26-year-old Tiffany Froslee of Henning out of the vehicle. She was airlifted to St. Cloud with life threatening injuries, and investigators say Froslee was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. The sheriff's office says that speed appears to be the major factor in the accident.
24-year-old Trevor Langlois has died after his condition worsened following a hit-and-run incident on I-35W near Hinckley last week. Family members say the Army veteran was removed from life support after his condition quickly deteriorated, and he developed a severe infection. Doctors had already informed the family that the head trauma Langlois suffered caused severe brain damage. They remain hopeful that the driver will either come forward or be found soon.
Prosecutors say the former Duluth man arrested in the hit-and-run death of Mahtowa rest stop janitor Greg Blackburn may have been intentional. 55-year-old Gregory Scherber of Minneapolis is charged with criminal vehicular homicide and running from police, but Carlton County Attorney Thom Peterler says more serious charges could follow based on witness statements that Scherber appeared to run over Blackburn on purpose. Witnesses said the pickup was at one end of the vacant semitrailer parking lot and accelerated rapidly toward the other end of the lot where Blackburn was picking up garbage, running him down. Scherber's criminal history includes charges of DWI, theft, disorderly conduct, domestic assault, terroristic threats and violation of harassment order. He also has a history of mental illness.