Rising rivers lengthen commutes

caption (Gina Dolski/TommieMedia)
The Mississippi River had reached 18.47 feet at noon Wednesday. (Gina Dolski/TommieMedia)

With the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers rising, many St. Thomas students, faculty and staff are being affected.

The Mississippi River had reached 18.47 feet at noon Wednesday, according to the City of St. Paul. That level is the eighth-highest mark in St. Paul’s recorded history.

Although city officials are not concerned about the rising Mississippi River affecting homes and businesses, several St. Paul roads and city parks were closed due to the rising water. Areas around Harriet and Raspberry islands were closed because of officials’ concern about swift river flow and floating debris. About 50 commercial and industrial businesses also continue to pay close attention to the threat of flooding.

Along the St. Croix River, the Stillwater Lift Bridge was closed earlier this week.

Flooding in several of these areas is affecting St. Thomas students and faculty members.

Associate Professor of Economics Monica Hartmann lives in downtown St. Paul between Shepard Road and the Mississippi River.

“The water is supposed to crest, I think, Thursday night, but it will still be below our garage,” Hartmann said. “Interestingly, this is the eighth-highest the river has ever been, but No. 4 or 5 is from 2001. Our garage and our building [are] actually below those flood levels that were in 2001.”

“I bet it has been more of a problem for anyone coming from the suburbs into downtown or coming out,” she said.

Senior Connor Anderson’s hometown is Stillwater, Minn. He knows many people who live and work in Wisconsin, and who now have to detour south to Hudson, Wis., rather than crossing the lift bridge at Stillwater.

“They have to wake up early to make the drive,” he said.

Ramsey County is still under a flood warning, and according to the National Weather Service, the river is expected to rise to 19.4 feet by Thursday afternoon. The water level is expected to start dropping this weekend.

Stephani Bloomquist contributed to this report.

Rebecca Omastiak can be reached at omas5009@stthomas.edu