Stillwater to build 15-foot tall temporary wall for St. Croix River flooding

March 12, 2019 09:04 AM

Stillwater Mayor Ted Kozlowski told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the city is ready to build a temporary, 15-foot high flood wall stretching from one end of the city to the other in preparation for major flooding along the St. Croix River.

"It is going to be a big effort to get this thing built," said Kozlowski. "It will be 12- to 15-feet high and made out of sandbags and plastic, primarily."

Kozlowski said the original plan was to start construction of the temporary levee on March 18, but with rain expected over the next couple days, the city will most likely start the project sooner.

RELATED: Flood preparations underway in Hastings

"We are ready to build it because we've got the sand and the bags and we have over 1,000 people who are stepping up to volunteer, and now we just need a 'go' date which looks like it will be any day now," he said.

The city is closing several public parking lots starting March 18 to remove snow, primarily, but also to also make it easier to build the sandbag levee without mounds of snow in the way.

"Basically, all of the parking lots east of Water Street will be closed while we get rid of the snow," said Kozlowski. "We are trying to wait as long as possible for downtown businesses, but we also have to make sure that properties and homes are protected, too."

Mark Hanson has owned and operated Marx Fusion Bistro on Main Street for 17 years, and he, along with other downtown businesses, are keeping a close eye on the St. Croix River.

"We've been down this road before and the people of Stillwater always step up and help each other," said Hanson. "And, I am willing to do what is necessary if it gets really bad, even if that means sandbagging in the middle of the night."

Minnesota dealing with more snow cover than 1965, raising flooding concerns

Hanson said the rising waters of the St. Croix is a yearly occurrence, but this year is shaping up to be just a little bit more than the city's usual high-water struggles.

"This year is definitely a year with a lot more snow on the ground heading into late March, and the upcoming rain means it will take extra effort to minimize damage and make sure visitors to Stillwater know we are all open for business," Hanson said.

The most recent forecast from the National Weather Service said the St. Croix River Valley has a 90 percent chance of "major flooding" as March comes to an end in a little over two weeks.

More on local flooding concerns and preparations

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Jay Kolls

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