Communities along St. Croix River feeling impact of historic flooding

Family forced to evacuate as St. Croix River levels rise

Family forced to evacuate as St. Croix River levels rise

The St. Croix River was less than an inch from ‘major flood stage’ in Stillwater by late Friday afternoon.

Communities all along the river are feeling the impact, including Lake St. Croix Beach, which is ten miles downstream from Stillwater.

“You know, to see that much water inside your house is just unsettling. There’s no way around it. It shocks me every time,” said Sarah O’Connell, who lives in Lake St. Croix Beach.

Her home, a block down from the river, now has three and a half feet of water in the basement.

“I don’t know. It’s otherworldly kind of when I come down here. I can hardly believe there’s this much water,” O’Connell said.

5 EYEWITNESS News visited O’Connell’s home exactly a week ago as she was preparing for the floods.

At the time, the basement was completely dry.

“This all just came up in the last few days,” O’Connell said. “The septic is now compromised and it’s no longer safe for us to stay in the house.”

She moved out of the house Thursday evening with her two young kids and will stay in temporary housing until the floodwaters reside.

“Two weeks is optimistic. It could be a month, maybe more,” O’Connell said.

The St. Croix River was at 88.9 feet in Stillwater by 4:30 Friday afternoon.

‘Major flood stage’ is 89 feet.

This surpasses river levels from the 2019 flood when the St. Croix crested at about 88.5 feet.

The National Weather Service predicts the river will rise another eight or nine inches before cresting early Tuesday morning.

It is expected to stay in ‘major flood stage’ until at least next Friday.

This marks the worst flooding the area has seen in 22 years when the river crested at 91 feet in 2001.

“There’s a few other people up here that have some water in their basements too,” O’Connell said. “People are pumping and monitoring every day.”

Some roads in O’Connell’s neighborhood are washed out.

Her backyard is filled with water that is a few feet deep.

O’Connell has lived in her house for about a decade and said she is a little more prepared for the spring flooding this year.

After the 2019 flood, she moved her furnace to the ceiling so it would not get destroyed by water.

She has also created an elevated pump system in the basement.

“My goal is to continue to find ways to live with the river and make it work,” O’Connell said.

Washington County Emergency Management is asking people to avoid flooded areas whenever possible.