A no-wake zone put into effect nearly two weeks ago on the St. Croix River because of high water has been lifted, and calmer waters on the Mississippi River also have allowed three Twin Cities locks to reopen to all boat traffic.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) imposed the no-wake zone on the St. Croix from Taylors Falls to where the river converges with the Mississippi at Prescott, Wis., on June 26 after the St. Croix’s level topped 683 feet at the gauge in Stillwater.
Regulations require the no-wake zone to be imposed at that level, slowing boats to a crawl on the popular stretch of river. The no-wake zone was lifted — with the exception of the area around construction of the new St. Croix Crossing at Oak Park Heights — on Sunday.
With a recent stretch of storm-free weather, river levels at Stillwater have been dropping and were at 681.8 feet as of Monday morning, according to the National Weather Service. The river remains in the “action stage” range, putting local authorities on alert for the possibility of flooding, but it is forecast to slip back to normal by Saturday.
The Mississippi has calmed as well, allowing three locks — Lock & Dam No. 1 near the former Ford plant in St. Paul, and the Upper and Lower St. Anthony locks and dams in downtown Minneapolis — to reopen to all boat traffic, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Although the locks have reopened, boaters are advised to use caution in the currents, which are still strong.
The locks closed to recreational boat traffic when flows reached unsafe levels of 30,000 cubic feet per second, and later to commercial traffic when it topped 40,000 cubic feet per second.
The locks reopened on Friday.
Meanwhile, teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have arrived in Minnesota and are expected to start assessing damages on Tuesday from the same waves of severe storms in the latter part of June that pummeled much of the state and caused the rivers to swell.
The damage covers 23 counties and extends from Wilkin County on the state’s western border through the Twin Cities and southeast to Winona County. The damage included the largest electrical outage on record that affected about 600,000 people, thousands of toppled trees, roadway sinkholes and widespread flash flooding. The cost must top a $7.26 million threshold to qualify for federal aid
FEMA officials, along with those from the state’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department, will meet with those from the affected counties to go over the damages, said Doug Neville, spokesman for the Department of Public Safety. Officials won’t necessarily visit each county, but they will review the claims. The process is expected to take several days.