Flooding continues to impact river towns in Minnesota and Wisconsin, with high waters in marinas and parks

Flooding impacts on people preparing for summer

Flooding impacts on people preparing for summer

Stillwater is living up to its name this weekend, with St. Croix River flooding impacting trails, parks and marinas.  

“It’s interrupting plans a bit,” declares Tedi Grey Owl, from Minneapolis.

Owl pedaled on the Gateway Trail, all the way from St. Paul — until she was abruptly blocked by warning signs and high waters.

“We haven’t seen this in, I don’t know how long, this kind of flooding,” she says. “I think we’ve dealt a lot with drought, and this is kind of the other way around.”  

The St. Croix is now at major flood stage.

On Saturday, its waters could be seen creeping into the parking lot at the Stillwater Marina — the water a foot deep inside one of the marina’s offices.

Meanwhile, John Kerschbaum was putting his shop-vac to work — sucking out rainwater from one of his gondolas.

“It’s been tough with all the rain and the cool weather. I’d be painting today, but it’s not even fifty degrees,” he says.

Normally, Kerschbaum would be painting and epoxying his two gondolas, getting ready for the summer tourist season.

He’s been operating ‘Gondola Romantica’, giving rides on the St. Croix, for 23 years.

Now, he hopes to start operations by the end of next week if Mother Nature cooperates and the water recedes.  

“Well, it happens,” Kerschbaum says ruefully. “I grew up in Afton. We got flooded in ’65 and ’69. We had to move out of our house down there. Mom’s still there today. Just part of life on the river.”

Despite all that water, several marina owners tell 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS they hope to open for the season this coming week.  

Joe Pralutsky, from Little Canada, drove to Stillwater Saturday with his wife Willi and their grandson Landon to scope things out.

They found large areas of Lakeside Park in Bayport underwater.

“This is unusually high,” Pralutsky declares.”I can’t wait for it to go down, because I want to get my boat in. We normally fish for the opener on this river. And with the landings all underwater, it’s probably going to be a while.”

The good news is that the St. Croix is expected to be in moderate flood stage into Wednesday, and minor flood stage by next weekend.

Still, there are challenges ahead.

One marina operator told us she is three weeks behind schedule but hopes to fully open by May 8.

Post-flooding cleanup will be among the chores riverside businesses will have to take on.

“It’s a beautiful river, and I can’t wait for it to come back down to its normal level,” Pralutsky says.