STILLWATER (WCCO) — If there was any doubt we’re at the mercy of Mother Nature, ask the folks of North Branch. A foot of heavy-wet snow has them socked in and digging out. Now, the next days are crucial.
Much of that snow to the north will melt and run into the watershed that feeds the St. Croix River, which is putting places like Stillwater on guard.
For the St. Croix, and other swollen rivers in the state, the question is: what’s the added impact from more rain and snow?
“It depends on how fast it melts. It could mean a second crest down the road, we’re not really sure,” said Stillwater Police Chief John Gannaway.
Gannaway added that what is certain is the need for a stockpile of 80,000 sandbags. Beginning sharply at dawn Wednesday, crews begin work on a poly-covered sand levee.
Once the work begins, trucks and dozers will build the sand wall to an elevation of 693 feet, roughly the level of the historic 1965 flooding.
The good news is that some of the latest precipitation was already factored into flood forecasts.
On Monday, the river will hit flood stage and crews in Stillwater will be prepared to go higher if hydrologists determine it’s necessary.
“The good thing is if you work here in the valley, as we call it, you kind of learn to deal with floods and learn to roll with the punches. Whatever Mother Nature brings on, you just deal with it,” added Gannaway.
The latest flood forecast was revised Wednesday. It expects the St. Croix to reach a level where the lift bridge closes on Monday, March 28.
The crest should come on March 30, but well within the limits of the planned levy.