Second river crest looms in south Washington County
South Washington County communities experienced initial river flood crests with no major problems, but are planning for more high water along the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers in the coming days and weeks.
The first crests came late last week and were lower than predicted, sparing homes in Newport from flooding and allowing the Grey Cloud Island Bridge to remain open.
National Weather Service forecasts suggest a second, higher crest could occur within a week.
The rivers reached a first crest last Thursday and fell through Monday.
The receding Mississippi spared an aging levee in Newport that officials had feared would be topped by record floodwaters. The river rose within 30 inches of the top of the 800-foot-long levee, said Newport Public Works Superintendent Bruce Hanson, before beginning its drop early Thursday.
The leaky levee still presented problems. Newport Public Works was forced to pump a few inches of water from the intersection of 17th Street and Cedar Lane where the river has been seeping through the weakened dike. A pond beside the levee has also been rising, Hanson said, as floodwaters leak through another spot in the dike.
"We're pretty much out of the woods here for now," Hanson said. But, he warned, there is still a second crest to come.
The National Weather Service predicts the Mississippi will reach major flood stage at Hastings by Friday night and continue to rise through the weekend, reaching 18.7 feet Monday. The first crest at Hastings reached 17.4 feet.
In St. Paul, a second crest will reach 19.5 feet by Monday, the weather service predicted. Last week's first crest was 18.48 feet in St. Paul.
Hastings and St. Paul are the nearest points along the Mississippi where the floodwaters are officially recorded.
After the first river crests last week, Washington County officials scaled back their emergency response effort.
The county's satellite emergency operations center in Lake St. Croix Beach was demobilized Thursday. The office had been set up in anticipation of major flooding along the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers.
County workers continue to monitor the rivers from the main emergency operations center in Stillwater.
Volunteers from Stillwater-based Community Thread had helped to sandbag in the county.