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River's rise continues, crest coming Wednesday

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The Mississippi River had risen Saturday to within six feet from the top of the private levee in Newport that protects a flood-prone area of the city, the city's public works director said.

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The flood forecast has held steady, predicting a crest on Wednesday just short of 20 feet above the river's normal level. Bruce Hanson, Newport's public works director, says that will put the river at the top of the deteriorating levee that the city said it will not sandbag.

Officials say flood waters are expected to be comparable to those of the 1993 flood.

"It looks like it's coming up a little slower than expected, actually," Hanson said Saturday afternoon, as city officials continued monitoring flood forecasts for St. Paul to the north and Hastings to the south. "We're probably at 694 (feet above sea level) right now."

That puts the river six feet from the top of the levee, he said.

The city, despite its decision not to sandbag the levee they fear will fail because of liability concerns, will provide sandbags to residents.

Residents were angered by Newport's decision to passively fight the floodwaters, a decision in stark contrast with the cities of Afton and Stillwater, which organized large sandbagging efforts Saturday morning.

But Hanson said Saturday no residents have yet requested sandbags to protect private property.

To request sandbags from the city of Newport, call public works at (651) 459-2475. Sandbags can be picked up at the city's old public works building, located at 1101 5th Avenue.

Check swcbulletin.com for updates.

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