St. Paul, Minn. -- The flood of 2011 in St. Paul began with a trickle of water down city storm drains and a state of emergency.
The state of emergency declaration signed Monday by Mayor Chris Coleman was largely procedural, streamlining the process for hiring contractors and emergency supplies, among other things.
But it sets the stage for what Rick Larkin knows is coming. "We're talking about river levels potentially we haven't seen in 40 plus years," said the city's director of emergency management.
On Tuesday workers will begin erecting more than 9,500 feet of flood wall at Holman Field. In the coming days a temporary clay dike will be laid down on Shepard Road in St. Paul, with another being planned a short distance away near the intersection of Broadway and Kellogg.
City workers will also begin removing benches and lighting from Harriet island, which could well be covered by eight feet of water.
Larkin cites National Weather Service flood forecasts. Those forecasts predict an 80 percent chance of flooding at the 2001 crest of 23.76 feet and a 48 percent chance the river will exceed its all time record high in St. Paul of 26.4 feet set in 1965.
"That's too close to a coin flip for me," said Larkin. "You're talking about 22 additional feet of water in this river if we were to see record levels."
It all means the city is taking precautions -- just like Bim Juhnke. On Monday Juhnke and his wife emptied the basement storage unit in their Upper Landing condominium. Flood water is not expected to reach the seven complexes that make up the make up the Upper Land community. They sit above a flood wall of more than 30 feet. Still, potential basement flooding and loss of sewers has the city warning residents to have an exit plan.
"We've made appropriate steps so far, we have a son and daughter in law living in Roseville," says Juhnke, "so they'll have to put up with us."
(Copyright 2011 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)