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Heavy Rains Cause Log Jam On Mississippi River in St. Paul

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(credit: CBS) Rachel Slavik
Rachel Slavik joined the WCCO team in October of 2010 and is thrill...
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SAINT PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – Heavy rainfall the past few weeks has been causing problems on lakes and rivers around Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Some lakes have no wake zones, creeks and rivers are showing minor flooding and the swollen Mississippi River is sending a lot of debris down river.

On the banks of the Mississippi, the St. Paul Yacht Club kicks off the boating season with an annual orientation.

“I’m very interested because I love cruising,” Ron Hilson, a member of the St. Paul Yacht Club, said.

But for members like Ron Hilson, this year is off to a slow start.

“It’s not worth it to go out there,” Hilson said.

Trees and other debris caught in the high and fast moving Mississippi are causing a growing problem down river.

At Raspberry Island in St. Paul a log jam is getting larger by the day and clean up won’t happen until next week due to unsafe river conditions.

“There is still a fair amount that’s stuck on that bridge,” Hilson said.  “Someone will have to come get it out.”

From his river front property, Dennis Osmussen has also watched the buildup at Raspberry Island.

“Gee, this is getting substantial.  It was bigger than this last year but not a lot,” Osmussen, a St. Paul Yacht Club member, said.

The log jam not only blocks boating traffic but also becomes a safety concern.

“If someone’s motor cut and got swept into that, it’s hard to say what would happen,” Osmussen said.

Heavy rain caused a log jam in the same place last year.  It triggered a debate over who would pay to clean it up since the log jam touches public, private, and federal property.  Ultimately, the city of St. Paul paid the bill.

This year, the city will once again cover removal costs.

However, clean up won’t begin until next week. Meanwhile, the log jam grows by the day.  The high water and swift current make it too dangerous for crews to remove the debris safely.

“Under the conditions, it’s perfectly understandable.  The river will go down in a couple of weeks,” Osmussen said.

With more rain the forecast it will take time before the river recedes to a safe level.

So, for boaters near Raspberry Island, it means more time in the slip rather than on the water.

“I’m looking forward to the water dropping and do what boats are meant to do,” Hilson said.

City officials said they hope to start clean up next Wednesday or Thursday, once the water is at a safe level.

As of now, officials aren’t concerned that the log jam could damage the bridge infrastructure because the river is below flood stage.

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