Threat of Flooding Impacts Travel by Car, Boat and Plane in St. Paul

Updated: 06/20/2014 11:22 PM By: Beth McDonough and Brandi Powell

Photo courtesy of Julie Finch
Photo courtesy of Julie Finch

The Mighty Mississippi is showing no mercy and is expected to crest next week.

"It's hard to do business when the river is crazy like this, " said Liz Miller who owns the Covington, a riverboat cruise business. She is still running her boat, but other companies have suspended their cruises until further notice. In part, because of a never ending stream of floating debris threatening to lock up boat rudders.

St. Paul city crews are working to reinforce the dock before the surging river pushes up and over it.

Whether by boat or car, travel is restricted along the river. 

Busy roads like Jackson and Warner are closed for fear of washouts. Tiny Raspberry Island is off limits. 

Along popular Harriet Island, barricades are up along the shoreline. "People play down here with their kids, I would think they would want to block it off to keep the kids from playing around the water, " said Beth Smith of St. Paul.

The rising river even posing a flooding threat at St. Paul's airport, Holman Field. "Once we hit 17 feet, in this area we'll start to see water kiss up against it," said Pat Mosites, the Airport Project Manager. He's talking about the temporary flood wall being installed to protect the state's third busiest airport. Only one of three runways there remain open.

At the Emergency Operations Center, calls for advice on flooding fears and preparations are constant. "this is clearly an event officials at the local level need help and assistance with," said Joe Kelly.

Not only has the rain been pounding the Mississippi River, Padelford Riverboats executives said they're getting hit hard, too. All boat tours are canceled through Wednesday at least. "It's a huge deal for us because we're a small family run business and we're seasonal, so we only have 5 months of season and this was the busiest 10 day stretch that we had booked through August," said Padelford Riverboats Vice President Gus Gaspardo. The local company will be out $150,000 to $200,000, according to Gaspardo.

Meanwhile, organizers of the Taste of Minnesota are looking for a new location for the festival set over Fourth of July weekend. There is a potential that Harriet Island could flood.