Mississippi River threatening Iowa, Wisconsin cities - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Mississippi River threatening Iowa, Wisconsin cities

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PRAIRIE DU CHIEN, WI (KWWL) -- Flood levels on the Mississippi are rising toward an expected crest that isn't supposed to hit until Friday.

As of Monday afternoon, the National Weather Service predicted the Mississippi River will reach flood stage at 16 feet by Tuesday afternoon in Iowa's Clayton County and Wisconsin's Crawford County.

The towns of McGregor, Marquette and - on the Wisconsin side - Prairie du Chien are in the area.

19 feet is the minimum height for a flood stage to qualify as moderate, and that's where the river is supposed to crest on Friday, according to NWS's Monday afternoon prediction.

The city managers for McGregor and Marquette said they're closely monitoring the situation but not yet taking action.

Prairie du Chien public works co-manager Terry Meyer said the city is moving garbage cans and picnic tables out of the water's predicted path.

"We're going prepare for a moderate flood event," Prairie du Chien city administrator Aaron Kramer said. "The downtown will be open. The business district will be open. The main highways will be open."

Kramer said if the river does crest on Friday at 19 feet, the damage won't extend beyond flooded parks, a few closed streets and a handful of residents with some basement flooding.

"The island, maybe for a few days there will be issues with street closures, that kind of thing," Meyer said, "but, overall, yeah, we're still open for business. That's for sure."

19 feet would be the highest Prairie du Chien has seen the river this year, but there's another factor that makes this flood stand out.

"It's been about a quarter of a century since the city's seen water this high this time of the year, so it's taking a little getting used to," Kramer said. "Usually we're looking at trees coming on the trees when the water's high, not turning colors and dropping, so it's a change."

Prairie du Chien's flood preparations include putting inmates to work bagging sand, which they did today. However, Kramer said the sandbags aren't necessary quite yet - the city is just planning ahead in case residents need them later this week.

The highest historical crest for the Mississippi River at McGregor was 25.38 feet on April 24, 1965.

Online Reporter: Becca Habegger

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