Some Lehigh residents forced to evacuate

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
Chunks of ice can be seen from the bridge in downtown Lehigh Sunday. Officials considered closing the bridge as a precaution against flooding, but it remained open as river levels weren’t as high as initially believed.

LEHIGH — Some Lehigh residents were told to leave their homes Sunday because of concerns officials had over potential flooding in the Des Moines River.

The Lehigh Fire Department was dispatched to assist in the evacuation early Sunday afternoon.

Dylan Hagen, Webster County Emergency Management coordinator, said the call to evacuate was mostly a precaution, as water levels in the river were unpredictable.

Many parts of town have already flooded due to high water levels caused by rapid melting of snow and ice jams.

“Right now, the (Lehigh) fire chief decided that, with the ice jam that’s up in Humboldt that could possibly be coming down here, we just wanted to take precautions and get folks out of their homes in case the water does come up again,” Hagen said Sunday.

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
This house in Lehigh is completely surrounded by water due to the flooding Des Moines River.

He added that there was no immediate cause for concern, but because of the unknowns with the ice jam, it was decided to be cautious and evacuate in case the river continued to flood.

The evacuation area included homes on the east side of the river and then north of Riverside Tavern, located at 450 E. Main St.

One of those evacuating Sunday was Cheyenne Jones. She was borrowing some animal cages from her friend, Angie Kiefer, of Lehigh, to help get her pets moved to safety.

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
This building in Lehigh is completely surrounded by water. Some residents of the town were ordered to evacuate Sunday as a precaution due to concerns about ice jams in the river.

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
A park sign in Lehigh is nearly completely submerged by water Sunday. A partial evacuation of the town was ordered as a precaution due to the high water levels in the Des Moines River.

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
Angie Kiefer, of Lehigh, left, helps Cheyenne Jones, also of Lehigh, with some pet cages Sunday. Jones was told to evacuate her home due to concerns about rising water levels.

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
Kathy Elifrits, of Lehigh, carries a box of belongings from a church as a precaution due to rising river levels in the town Sunday.