ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) –St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman declared a state of emergency Tuesday as the Mississippi River continues to rise there and create flooding issues. It’s the same situation in Ramsey County, and Harriet Island is under water.
The good news is that water is slowly receding this morning in areas west and south of the Twin Cities. But as it all converges in the Mississippi River, St. Paul is bracing for another foot of flooding in the coming day.
The current forecasts have the river topping out about five and a half feet below the record set in 1965, and it’s the seventh-highest it’s ever been since record-keeping began. The Mississippi River is expected to reach six feet above flood stage in downtown St. Paul later this week.
This isn’t a new problem for people living along the Mississippi River. They have plans in place, but the quickly rising waters, more than usual, are a concern. Crews are closing off floodwalls and bringing in pumps throughout the city.
Tuesday morning, tow trucks started moving 520 vehicles from the city’s low lying impound lot to higher ground. They ask that owners who want to get their cars be patient. The building is being sandbagged.
Nearby, earthen levees have been going up as fast as crews can work.
“The things that make it desirable land, like open industrial areas where you can have a big operation like that impound lot, sort of don’t favor us during flooding conditions so we’ve got to move that stuff out of there,” said Rick Larkin, the St. Paul emergency management director.
Larkin said the goal is always to stay two feet ahead of what the river does. Some of the cities in the area are concerned about aging levees and they have reason to be more concerned during a period of rain in the summer.
Many cities, like neighboring Newport, have outdated technology. Those communities built levees after 1965, the year of record flooding. In the spring, when we typically see some flooding due to snowmelt, the ground underneath is still frozen. In the summer, it is more slippery and more at risk of a breach.