Reporting Rachel Slavik
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Mississippi River in St. Paul is just days away from the expected crest of 19.5 feet. City leaders are keeping a close eye on the rising water, shutting down roads and Harriet Island.
When the Mississippi River tops its banks, it becomes an instant attraction.
“Just worried about the river rising, the Mississippi in St. Paul,” said Kathryn Schultz, who visited Harriet Island to look at the water level.
Everyone wants to monitor river levels, in person.
“I hope it crests soon, because it’s starting to flood around here,” said Dennis Schultz, a Rochester native, who drove to St. Paul to look at the river.
It may be a pastime for most, but for St. Paul’s Emergency Management director, it’s part of his job. Everyday, twice a day, he drives along the closed off roads near the Mississippi.
“I’m looking for several things: I’m looking for ice and debris,” said Rick Larkin, emergency management director.
He makes sure the levees are intact and checks vulnerable areas. River water is already pooling on Shepard Road.
“I’’s very little water, now, but as the river comes up, it’ll meet over the roadway. It may not get over the roadway at this revised level,” said Larkin.
The same information can be tracked from an office computer, but Larkin still insists on watching the river in person.
“We can look on the computer all day and see the numbers, but what does that really translate to? We need to see real conditions,” said Larkin.
A second crest is expected in the coming weeks and Larkin’s observations could help protect the public.
“Our goal, our team’s goal is to stay at least two feet ahead of the water,” he said.
It’s still too early to predict if a second crest would be worse than the crest expected this week.