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Officials: Stay Away from High Water, Don't be This Guy...

Updated: 06/20/2014 6:27 AM
Created: 06/19/2014 5:33 AM KSTP.com
By: Cassie Hart

As the State of Emergency in 35 Minnesota counties continues in Minnesota from extreme flash flooding Thursday, law enforcement says stay out of the high water.

Safety experts are urging Minnesota boaters, paddlers and swimmers to think twice before heading out on the water right now.

A pro kayaker was caught on video going over the swollen Minnehaha Falls, which is a 53-foot drop. The group of bystanders screamed as the man went over. A photo shows the kayaker landed safely.

Pro or not, the move is something law enforcement is warning against. Lt. Eric Roeske with the Minnesota State Patrol said the message is simple: do not drive into standing water, and stay away from the swollen rivers.

It is not illegal to go over the falls, according to Minneapolis Park Police. However, they added if the man would have asked for a permit, they would not have granted it.

Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Department said, it's their experience that a trip over the falls almost always results in serious injury or death. "The incident today was an irresponsible publicity stunt. The impact of the drop, the large boulders at the base of the Falls, the deep water and fast current could easily injure or kill a kayaker," they wrote in a statement.

Weather Makes Travel Difficult

Due to flooding, a no travel advisory is in effect for Highway 169 from Shakopee to Belle Plaine and Highway 13 in Lilydale.

Highway 13 between Wachtler Ave. and Sylvandale Rd. is closed indefinitely due to mudslides covering the roadway in Mendota Heights.

A mudslide has closed part of West River Parkway in Minneapolis. No word on any injuries.

The ramp from westbound Interstate 494 to Nicollet has also closed due to drainage problems.

Major flooding was seen near Mall of America during the morning commute, with vehicles struggling to travel across Highway 77. Numerous stalled vehicles were seen on the traffic cameras. At one point during the morning commute, there was about a foot of standing water on Cedar Avenue.

Find complete road closures and restrictions here.

State of Emergency

Gov. Dayton is directing the Minnesota National Guard to send 100 soldiers to Koochiching County in northern Minnesota to help in storm-affected areas.

Counties in the State of Emergency include; Beltrami, Blue Earth, Brown, Dodge, Faribault, Freeborn, Goodhue, Grant, Hubbard, Jackson, Lake of the Woods, Le Sueur, Lyon, Koochiching, McLeod, Morrison, Mower, Murray, Nicollet, Nobles, Olmsted, Otter Tail, Pipestone, Ramsey, Redwood, Renville, Rice, Rock, Roseau, Saint Louis, Scott, Sibley, Steele, Todd and Waseca.

River Levels

The average rainfall for this time in the month is about 2 1/2 inches, but we’ve gotten nearly 7 inches in the Twin Cities to date.

Minnehaha Creek hit a new record high Thursday morning and continues to rise. Several neighborhoods in Minneapolis, St. Louis Park and Edina are being impacted by the rising water near Minnehaha Creek, and city officials are asking drivers to avoid the following areas:

  • Minnehaha Parkway from 22nd to Bloomington avenues and 15th to 10th avenues
  • Cedar Avenue from 47th to 50th streets
  • 50th Street to Taft Street
  • Louisiana Avenue, closed between Highway 7 and Louisiana Circle
  • Louisiana Avenue, closed north of Walker Street 
  • Limited access on Excelsior Boulevard west of Highway 100
  • Limited access on Highway 7 west of Highway 100
  • 64th Street near the Edina Aquatic Center
  • Dewey Hill Road, west of Cahill Road
  • Hillary Lane
  • Stauder Circle between Londonderry and Parkwood roads
  • East Sunnyslope Road north of Dale Drive

The city of St. Louis Park is asking volunteers to help sandbag around the community Thursday. To volunteer, call 952-562-2875.

The Mississippi River in St. Paul is expected to rise up to a moderate flooding level by next week, which could put parts of downtown St. Paul under water. The St. Croix and Minnesota Rivers are also being watched closely.

The Minnesota River near Mankato is expected to keep rising through Monday, so people there are asked to not travel unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Southern Minnesota

Folks in Mankato are still on edge as more rain is headed their way. The National Weather Service is reporting that some areas saw more than 5 inches of rain Wednesday.

Many homeowners around the city were seen ripping out basements and salvaging anything they could.

Gov. Mark Dayton is in southern Minnesota Thursday to assess the flood damage there. He will meet with officials and emergency responders in Mankato and Owatonna. The governor was supposed to be in Marshall on Thursday for the groundbreaking of the Southwest Regional Sports Center, but the trip was canceled due to the weather.

Northern Minnesota

In northern Minnesota, officials in Koochiching County say Rainy Lake near International Falls will rise at least another foot this week – possibly not cresting until mid-July. Homes and highways are already sitting under water, and hundreds of people are sandbagging to save what they can.

Dayton traveled to the International Falls area earlier this week to meet with officials who are trying to hold back the rising Rainy River and Rainy Lake. Volunteers and government crews have placed over 80,000 sandbags to try to protect homes, cabins, resorts and other buildings in the border region.

The Department of Natural Resources has temporarily closed Franz Jevne State Park near the Minnesota-Canadian border due to flooding on the Rainy River. It's a relatively small state park in Koochiching County, between International Falls and Baudette.  

Also in northern Minnesota, engineers at the International Falls Dam are working to keep the flood water from interrupting operations at the Boise paper mill.
    
Rushing water blasting through spillways and wheels at the dam are threatening the mill's massive generators. If the generators are flooded, the mill could be shut down for weeks.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kayaker makes a safe landing after going over Minnehaha Falls Thursday.
Photo courtesy of ReLando Calrissian via Twitter
Sibley County Road 6 has collapsed.
Photo courtesy of Michael Dopp
Aldrich Avenue South and West 32nd Street in Minneapolis
Photo: Courtesy of Sharon Stiteler
Flooding in Belle Plaine, Minnesota
Photo: Courtesy of Molly Andersen
Flooding in Belle Plaine, Minnesota
Photo: Courtesy of Molly Andersen
Photo: KSTP-TV/Naomi Pescovitz
A graph of the Minnehaha Creek from the National Weather Service showing how fast the level has risen in just a few days

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