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Flood preparation still underway on St. Croix, roads remain closed in south central Minnesota

March 19, 2019 06:46 PM

Officials in Washington County said late Tuesday afternoon that all volunteer slots had been filled in advance of the planned start to sandbagging efforts Thursday in Stillwater.

The National Weather Service said the St. Croix River was at 78.5 feet Tuesday afternoon in Stillwater. Flood stage is 87 feet. The river is predicted to be at 85 feet by next Tuesday.

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Volunteers must complete a registration form. No walk-ups are allowed.

A Facebook post on the Washington County Flood Response 2019 page Tuesday said organizers hope to determine the needs for Saturday efforts by Thursday.

"What an AMAZING response from volunteers! Thank you everyone for all of your support in this effort," the post read in part.

On Monday, the city said all parking lots east of Water Street, including the bike/walking trail from Laurel Street to the Oak Park Heights border, would be closed and fenced off starting Tuesday.

City officials also said a temporary levee/dike wall running 2,000 feet in length will be built from Nelson Street to Laurel Street.

Lake St. Croix Beach plans on making 14,000 sandbags to build a 1,100 feet long, 3 feet tall wall in Riverfront Park to prevent flooding. 

"Right now we've got 1,500 made and this weekend we will make another 2,000," Lake St. Croix Beach Mayor Tom McCarthy said. "We live by the river because we love it, but every once in awhile we get thrown a curve ball and this is what we have to deal with." 

The city is looking for volunteers to help fill sandbags at city hall this Saturday between 10am and 12pm. 

Meanwhile, on the Mississippi River, the Prairie Island Indian Community said flooding preparation efforts were already underway. Sports partners such as the Timberwolves, Lynx, Twins, Wild and St. Paul Saints are expected to assist with sandbagging efforts at Treasure Island Resort and Casino.

The Timberwolves were expected to be on hand from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, with the Saints scheduled to follow from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

But the call was out for volunteers needed for afternoon shifts - 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. and 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. The Red Wing Police Department said volunteers do not need to call. They only need to show up at Treasure Island.


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Elsewhere, people were starting to return to their homes in Jordan after crews were able to break up an ice dam, reducing flooding in the city.

The Jordan Police Department said that as the Jordan Public Works Department, with assistance from S.M. Hentges & Sons, were working to remove the ice dam from Sand Creek Monday, a large portion of the dam loosened and pushed upstream out of the city.

With that, water started to flow freely past Valley Green Park and reduced water levels in the area. The department said only isolated areas have minimal water remaining, and the public works department was working to pump out the remaining floodwaters.

But other roads in the region remained closed.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation announced that Highway 19 from Henderson to Highway 169 would close Tuesday afternoon because of flooding from the Minnesota River. Highway 93 south of Henderson is also closed due to flooding.

St. Peter Police said it believes the Highway 99 river bridge will close at some point later this week. The department said the bridge typically closes when the river in Mankato reaches 25 feet, which it's project to do on Thursday evening.

The department also said its data is showing the river at Mankato cresting on Saturday at 26 feet, which would be just below the spring crest of 26.96 feet in April 2001.

Highway 4 north of St. James remained closed as well. And lane closures still exist on Highway 30 east of Mapleton.

While in New Ulm, the NWS said the Cottonwood River remained in major flood stage due to an ice jam.

Also on Tuesday, the Rural Finance Authority Board issued a Disaster Declaration for Minnesota, making low-interest loans available for Minnesota farmers whose operations suffered barn collapses or other damage due to the record winter snowfall.

Gov. Tim Walz had signed the bill Monday after it cleared both the state House and Senate without opposition last week, allowing the RFA to declare a disaster.

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