Froeber says this spring’s crest could be in the Red Lake River’s all-time top four or five in Crookston
After reaching a high point of 24.66 feet Monday evening, the Red Lake River in Crookston dropped about a foot overnight into Tuesday and at press time was sitting at 23.69 feet, according to the latest National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service hydrograph.
Hydrologists continue to project a Red Lake River crest in Crookston of approximately 26 feet Wednesday into Thursday.
Crookston’s certified levee system protects much of the community to a crest of 31 feet, but there are vulnerable areas not impacted by the levee system, such as the Riverside Avenue area, the area across the street from the south-end fire hall, the Crookston Library and South Ash Street near the Robert Street Bridge. The Riverside dike and wooden flood wall was sandbagged last week, and Monday afternoon sandbags were added along South Ash near the bridge.
Crookston Emergency Manager/Fire Chief Tim Froeber, speaking to the city council Monday evening, said that with all of the snow that fell during the winter, “We knew this was coming.” Given that, he said that comprehensive plans and preparations have been underway for weeks, and that officials were collaborating and consulting with each other constantly during the high-water event. For instance, Froeber said, Polk County flew a drone over the Red Lake River upstream from Crookston to record video and take photographs of the broken-up ice on the river to see the degree of concern over ice jams.
All six ward command posts are open and a firefighter has been assigned to lead each command post. Public Works crews are on 24-hour shifts, and the City’s primary Emergency Operations Center is open. The number there is 281-4363.
If an evacuation is necessary, Froeber said Crookston Sports Center has been identified by the City and the American Red Cross as the destination point for evacuees.
Froeber said the Red Lake River’s crest projection has been “sort of a moving target,” but that he’s confident the community is ready for the crest expected to come. While a lot of river ice has made its way through the river’s winding channels through the city, Froeber said there still could be more ice coming.
“We’ve been real busy; we haven’t had this much snow in quite some time,” he said. “It’s not over yet. We’ll see how it goes.”
A 26-foot crest, Froeber added, would likely put the 2019 high-water event in the top four or five in the Red Lake River’s recorded history. The record crest occurred in 1997, at 28.4 feet, before the certified levees were constructed and the old dikes all over town were either sandbagged or had clay placed on them.