March 22, 2019 11:11 AM
Preparations are underway in St. Paul where the Mississippi River is expected to reach minor flood stage by Sunday.
City officials have already declared a local flood emergency, a procedural declaration that is part of the city's flood response plan. According to a release, it allows St. Paul Emergency Management to request and coordinate aid and resources from surrounding jurisdictions - including the Ramsey County Division of Emergency Management, Homeland Security and the State of Minnesota.
It also allows city departments to quickly mobilize resources and begin immediate purchasing and contracting.
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Rick Schute, the Director of Emergency Services in St. Paul, said he met with city, county and state leaders Thursday morning to finalize flood coordination plans. "
The mobilization of people, equipment and materials are underway now," he said
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS was there Thursday as crews removed expensive lighting at Raspberry Island so flooding debris doesn't damage it. Crews then covered up those spots by drilling in orange cones over electrical and gas connections.
The city's Public Works Department said Thursday that several streets in downtown St. Paul would close at 10 p.m. Sunday.
"With a historic snowfall this winter, combined with the rapid snowmelt, we are anticipating significant spring flooding of the Mississippi River," Mayor Melvin Carter said in a statement. "This action ensures we are prepared to respond and keep our city safe."
City officials have closed Lilydale Regional Park, Crosby Farm Regional Park and Hidden Falls Regional Park and the police department plans to move its impound lot because of rising river water.
And a release said maintenance crews were deploying the floodwall at the St. Paul downtown airport. The deployable portion of the floodwall is about 3,200 feet in length.
Other areas of the state continued to deal with flooding Thursday as well.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation said a major ice jam that formed between Mankato and St. Peter on the Minnesota River released late Wednesday afternoon.
After the ice jam released, the river rose 2 feet in a four-hour period.
MnDOT also announced that Highway 41 would close between Highway 169 near Shakopee and Chaska Boulevard in Chaska beginning at 7 p.m. Thursday due to rising water levels on the Minnesota.
On Wednesday, the Henderson Police Department said that Sibley County Road 6 (Scenic Byway) south of County Road 5 had closed.
That leaves just a single route in and out of the city, for now. Flood gates had already gone up in Henderson earlier than city officials originally anticipated as the Minnesota River continues to rise.
MnDOT had already closed Highway 19 to Highway 169 because of flooding. And, Highway 93 south of Henderson also remains closed. MnDOT said Highway 93 from Highway 169 to Le Sueur was scheduled to close Wednesday night.
Downstream from St. Paul on the Mississippi, flood preparations were underway in Washington County. On Tuesday, Stillwater asked for volunteers to help fill sandbags, and the demand was filled within hours.
The first shifts started Thursday. The Stillwater Lions Club was there, donating food to the sandbaggers.
National Guard officials said Thursday that they were closely watching areas like New Ulm, Montevideo and Moorhead. But, guard members were ready to deploy wherever they are needed.
The Associated Press contributed to this story
Updated: March 22, 2019 11:11 AM
Created: March 21, 2019 03:26 PM
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