Communities along St. Croix River are bracing for flooding
The power of the flood-swollen St. Croix River — never more evident than at Taylors Falls.
“It’s definitely way up higher than it (usually) is,” says Bryce Haaf, from Wolf Creek. “It’s a lot faster, the current’s moving superfast compared to normal.”
Haaf spoke with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS at a now-closed river access point in St. Croix Falls, on the Wisconsin side.
“I take the canoe every once in a while,” he notes. “And I do a lot of duck hunting on this.”
The National Park Service-owned location is one of 50 being shut down on the St. Croix and Namekagon Rivers because of the flooding.
We asked Haaf how much higher the river is than normal.
“Ah, it’s way higher,” he replied, pointing to a group of trees sitting in what appeared to be several feet of water. “Usually, it’s over them trees is where the end of the boat landing is.”
Nick Shope, a chief ranger with the National Park Service, says the snowmelt is causing more than just high and fast waters.
“We get a lot of debris that’s floating in the river,” he explains. ”You just never know when there’s a tree or a chunk of ice floating by. We’ve got a lot of non-motorized users that canoe and kayak and stuff. With these increased water flows and extra debris, it really creates hazardous conditions.”
Flooding from the St. Croix has already started in parts of Hudson.
“The water will be up to here,” says Sarah O’Connell, motioning several feet high with her hand.
O’Connell says she’s seen this before.
In 2015, she says, her street went underwater, and so did her basement.
“Looks like this is going to be another emergency situation for us,” O’Connell declared.
In Stillwater, sandbags line the riverfront.
Parking lots, in a flood zone, are fenced off.
The St. Croix is expected to reach minor flood stage by Saturday evening, and major flood stage between Sunday night into Monday.
And now, the hard part: waiting to see what the river will do next.
“It’s very dramatic how much, how fast it’s melting compared to other years,” Haaf says. “So it definitely made an impact on the water route, below the water.”