Ramsey County declares flooding emergency


Matt Hudson Much of Harriet Island Regional Park in St. Paul was under water on March 27, even as peak river levels were expected to be higher. Ramsey County’s emergency flooding declaration puts much of the focus on the Mississippi River banks.

The Ramsey County Board of Commissioners approved an emergency declaration on March 26 amid the threat of flooding, particularly along the Mississippi River.

The declaration allows the county to direct money more quickly toward projects related to flood preparation or response to a disaster event. That could include approving unbudgeted overtime for workers and unplanned construction, according to Ramsey County Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security Judd Freed.

“The first thing is it allows for us to do some emergency contracting if we need to,” he said.

One emergency contract already underway will finish reinforcement work at the Ramsey County Government Center East. Freed said that the work began before the emergency declaration and will be finished under it.

The National Weather Service issued a flood warning for a wide area of Minnesota and Wisconsin, with a focus on the Mississippi River in St. Paul. As of early morning on March 26, the river was at 17.8 feet. The flood stage is 14 feet.

Flooding has put Harriet Island under water, and state officials closed Fort Snelling State Park as the river breached its banks.

Officials were prepping for some road water as the river was expected to pass 20 feet through the following week. The river-level forecasts change, sometimes daily, and preparations are made based on those changing expectations.

“Now it’s pretty much a waiting game to see what happens,” Freed said. “We did everything we could do beforehand.”

The amount of spring rainfall will play a big role in how the flood warnings play out. Freed cautioned people against going into flooded roads, parks and other areas.

“It’s the Mississippi River,” he said. “It looks tranquil. It moves a lot of water really fast. It’s dangerous.”

 

–Matt Hudson can be reached at mhudson@lillienews.com or 651-748-7825.

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