The river acts mighty


The Mississippi River in St. Paul flows over its banks Monday. The water is forecast to rise to 19 feet 6 inches later this week. (MPR photo by Bob Ingrassia)

The mighty Mississippi is living up to its name in St. Paul.

Water is flowing over sidewalks and into park areas on both sides of the river near downtown. Barricades are up on Shepard road, blocking access between Eagle Street and Highway 61.

On Monday, St. Paul officials closed the parks on Harriet and Raspberry islands.

The water level surpassed 17 feet 6 inches this morning and was still on the rise. Forecasters are projecting a crest in St. Paul of 19 feet 6 inches on Thursday.

The high water is a curiosity for many and a nuisance for some. Office workers, dog walkers and joggers checked out the river Monday morning, some with cameras in hand. A few police cars and city maintenance vehicles cruised Harriet Island.

Several walkways, stairwells and boardwalks are under water. The great lawn on Harriet Island is flooded, with geese and ducks making themselves right at home in the water.


The Mississippi River floods the great lawn on Harriet Island. (MPR photo by Bob Ingrassia)

Access points to Raspberry and Harriet islands are blocked. Crews have tied sandbags to garbage cans so they won’t flow away as the river rises.

The flood has been fun — so far — for Dennis Asmussen, who lives on a houseboat on the river across from downtown St. Paul. He’s been canoeing on the rushing water.

But there have been challenges. The marina’s power got knocked out Sunday night, so those who haven’t fired up their generators have been a bit chilly. But his boat and the others, along with the docks to which they are tied, will rise with the water level.

Asmussen describes living through — and on — his first Mississippi River flood.

The St. Croix River also is running high. The Stillwater Lift Bridge remains open for now, but officials with the Minnesota Department of Transportation say flooding may force its closure at some point.

Minnesota Department of Transportation spokesman Kevin Gutknecht said the department is keeping a close eye on the rising water around the clock.

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