ST. PAUL (WCCO) — The flood prediction threat in the Minnesota and Mississippi River valleys is the worst it’s been in at least a decade.
The City of St. Paul, Ramsey County and Washington County have all made State of Emergency declarations as they gear up for possible flooding.
This week’s warm weather is melting the snow pack along the river fast. We always knew thawing would come. We just didn’t know how fast it would happen.
“So this sponge is full, and when the snow melts, we’re going to add more water,” said Rick Larkin, the emergency management director for the City of St. Paul. “Well, really, it’s really close to a coin-flip for record flooding in St. Paul.”
There’s a sense of urgency for Larkin and other city managers.
His emergency operations center is ready to handle the city’s response, with its multitude of cameras pointed at possible problem spots.
“We are making sandbags. We are ordering pumps. We are ordering generators. We’re planning to build emergency levees,” he said.
A clay levee will run along Shepard Road to protect Lowertown.
It’ll curve at the eastern end and be reinforced with sandbags.
But more than 2,000 residents in Lowertown and the Upper Landing might have to evacuate for another reason.
City officials are worried that the sewer system could actually back up and flood both areas.
Storm sewers have never been tested by a large-scale flood.
The city’s sending out a letter, urging residents to plan now for the potential dangers.
“I do know this, it’s a lot easier for folks to plan before the water’s rising than when the water’s rising,” Larkin said.
The city is also planning several emergency preparedness meetings in the next week.
“I’m guessing they’ll get things under control. Otherwise I guess it’ll be a little bit of a bummer,” said Debbie Hinkland, who lives in Lowertown.
There’s a 70-percent chance of major flooding along parts of the Mississippi.
But it’ll be the coming days and weeks that will show just how accurate that prediction is.