MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Several Twin Cities communities are bracing for spring flooding as the Mississippi, Minnesota and St. Croix rivers rise with rapidly melting snow.
Highway 41 over the Minnesota River near downtown Chaska closed to traffic Thursday night after the evening commute.
St. Paul city officials have closed Lilydale Regional Park, Crosby Farm Regional Park and Hidden Falls Regional Park and the police department has moved its impound lot because of rising river water.
On Sunday morning, the city will also close several downtown streets, and public works crews will begin building levees in Lowertown.
The streets slated to close are:
– Warner/Shepard Road from Childs Road to Ontario Street
– 2nd Street from Kellogg Boulevard to Sibley Street
– 4th Street from Willius to Commercial Street
– Jackson Street from Warner Road to Kellogg Boulevard
– Sibley Street from Warner Road to Kellogg Boulevard
On Jackson and Sibley streets, which are both one-way streets, traffic will be reconfigured to flow in two ways so motorists can access businesses and parking.
RELATED: Spring Flooding Resources
The St. Paul City Council affirmed an emergency declaration Wednesday, setting up the city for state and federal assistance and coordinating flooding response efforts by local departments.
The National Weather Service says there’s a 95 percent chance the Mississippi will reach major flood stage, or 17 feet, in St. Paul in the coming days.
At St. Paul’s Holman Field, there’s one aircraft that can’t be moved. The Learning Jet is a hands on classroom, teaching aviation and science to 1,700 young students. A permanent 9-foot flood wall is being reinforced, but is no guarantee.
“But if it comes over the wall at any height, this is the lowest part in the airport, so this will be Tug Boat Annie, which is our reservation over here,” said Steve Hurvitz of The Learning Jet.
Two runways are already closed, as MAC crews erect the final line of defense. A temporary wall will hopefully keep the Mississippi at bay.
“There’s one thing they can’t control — what comes from above,” Hurvitz said.
So with walls of steel and bags of sand, this spring battle is being waged to keep both commerce and classrooms dry as winter melts away.
Meanwhile, volunteers will mobilize Thursday in downtown Stillwater to fill sandbags in preparation for flooding along the St. Croix River. Dan is among 250 volunteers filling 80,000 sandbags.
“Just helping out with the sandbagging. They’re filling up, we’re stacking them, they’re moving them around,” Dan said. “Got a good rhythm going right now.”
They’ll be tightly stacked onto pallets for use on the front line, where down the street, heavy equipment shapes a ribbon of earthen levy to keep the river at bay.
Several state parks and trails are temporarily closed from the floods. In many places, the ground just isn’t safe for people or cars and trucks. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources hopes to reopen the trails in May, or sooner if things dry up.