Weather assists flood-prone communities as rivers crest
With floodwaters leveling off, Washington County officials have 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 will continue to monitor the rivers from the main emergency operations center in Stillwater.
The rivers were reaching a first crest by Thursday.
The receding river 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.
"If (the river) stays down at this level it's not too bad," Hanson said Thursday. "But they're still predicting that second crest."
In Hastings, the Mississippi crested Thursday at 17.4 feet, short of major flood stage at 18 feet. There is a 50 percent chance that a second crest in April will be higher than the first crest.
The Mississippi at St. Paul crested Tuesday at 19 feet - major flood stage is 17 feet - but a second crest is expected there as well.
Cottage Grove officials had prepared to close the Grey Cloud Island Bridge due to flooding, but the cold temperatures last week helped to slow the rising floodwaters and the bridge remained open at mid-week.
In Stillwater, the historic lift bridge remained open to Minnesota-Wisconsin traffic on Thursday as officials watched the river level closely. The river was at 86.09 feet Thursday morning. Flood stage is at 87 feet. The Minnesota Department of Transportation would close the bridge if the water reached 86.2 feet.
Volunteers from Stillwater-based Community Threat had helped to sandbag in the county, but there were no requests for volunteers Thursday.
Stay with the Bulletin online for south Washington County flood coverage.