VIDEO: Hundreds of volunteers fill sandbags as flood preparations continue on Prairie Island
More than 300 volunteers filled around 20,000 sandbags this week on Prairie Island as the Prairie Island Indian Community prepares for potential flooding.
Community members, businesses, sports organizations and members and employees of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe were among the volunteers who came out to help with flood preparations at Treasure Island Resort and Casino. Volunteers on Thursday, March 21 — day three of sandbagging efforts — included Xcel Energy staff and more than 40 employees with the Minnesota Twins front office.
Twins President Dave St. Peter said it is a busy time with the start of the baseball season, but helping with flood preparation was a top concern for the organization.
“When our friends are in need, it’s our responsibility to lend a hand,” St. Peter said.
Xcel Energy operates the Prairie Island nuclear plant located a few hundred yards away from the Prairie Island Indian Community. The utility company said procedures are in place should flooding occur, but it does not expect operational impacts at the plant based on long-range forecasts.
“Xcel Energy’s first priority is to protect the public, our employees and our plants so we are taking several steps to stay ahead of potential rise in river levels at the Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant,” according to a statement Thursday. “We are in direct contact with state and local emergency management officials to monitor local flood conditions.”
READ MORE: 2019 Flooding
Prairie Island officials said Tuesday they are watching river forecasts to make a determination for a possible evacuation order for residents. A voluntary evacuation would be issued if the Mississippi River level at the nearby Lock and Dam No. 3 is projected to reach 683 feet, with a mandatory evacuation at a forecast of 685 feet.
The river was at 674.6 feet at the lock as of Thursday morning, and was projected to climb to 680.2 feet by Thursday morning, March 28, according to data reported to the National Weather Service. Flood stage is 680.5 feet.
The Mississippi River level at Red Wing was 8.54 feet Thursday and projected to rise to 13.5 feet next week, just shy of the 14-foot flood stage.
Flood warnings were issued for the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers, including areas of Dakota and Washington counties in Minnesota and Pierce County in Wisconsin. Warm temperatures this weekend are expected to cause rapid snowmelt.