River’s crest in St. Paul expected Thursday

Published 10:23 am Tuesday, June 24, 2014

By Raya Zimmerman and Andy Rathbun

Pioneer Press, St. Paul

ST. PAUL — As the Mississippi River continued its surge to an expected crest of 20.5 feet later this week, St. Paul began paperwork to declare a state of emergency.

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The river is expected to peak Thursday. As of 2 p.m. Monday, it was at 18.22 feet by the Robert Street Bridge.

Thursday’s expected crest would be the seventh-highest in more than a hundred years of records. The highest crest in St. Paul was 26 feet — set in April 1965. A level of 20 feet or more hasn’t been seen since 2001.

In response to heavy damage in parts of the city, Mayor Chris Coleman filed paperwork Monday declaring a state of emergency. The interim measure will be revisited by the city council on Wednesday.

Also on Monday, Gov. Mark Dayton met with the Minnesota Recovers Task Force, a group of federal, state and local agencies, to discuss flood recovery.

Dayton also plans to extend the state of emergency for 35 Minnesota counties, as heavy rains this month have led to high water across the state.

At Beanie’s at Maui’s Landing, a marina in Lakeland on the St. Croix River, eyes were on river forecasts for coming days.

The office already had about 6 inches of water in it Monday morning, but flood damage there was not too much of a concern, as the building has a concrete floor and walls, along with raised electrical outlets, said owner Gary Mau.

What Mau is concerned about, however, is whether the river will crest in line with forecasts.

“If the water comes about 2 or 3 inches above what is forecast, we’ll start to get water in our garage and basement,” Mau said.

The St. Croix River in Stillwater was measured at 86.16 feet at 2:15 p.m. Monday and was forecast to crest at 87.2 feet on Friday.

Mau, who said the flooding is the worst he’s seen in about 10 years, said he’s checking river forecasts several times a day for any changes.

“We’ll have to take a look at it tomorrow and see how we’re doing,” he said.

There are still people renting pontoons at the marina, Mau said, which is “attempting to stay open, but at a very reduced scale.”

The high water on the St. Croix prompted the Minnesota Department of Transportation to close the Stillwater Lift Bridge on Monday. The bridge will remain closed until further notice and motorists are asked to use Interstate 94 or Highway 243 as detours.

On the Mississippi in St. Paul, flows were 98,700 cubic feet per second Monday morning, and were forecast to hit 119,000 cubic feet per second when the river reaches its expected crest Thursday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.