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"A once-in-a-lifetime sight."

Gawkers Crowd Metro Riverbanks
By Mark Zdechlik
April 14


Officials say its too early to start claiming victory over the flood of 1997 even though river waters are starting to recede in many areas. In many places the battle to hold back river water is now being rivaled by effort to keep sightseers out of areas in which they don't belong. Minnesota Public Radio's Mark Zdechlik reports.

LIKE MANY SWOLLEN WATERWAYS AROUND THE REGION, the flooded Mississippi River in downtown St. Paul has become a standalone tourist attraction.


Joe Kubess brought his daughters to see what he says could be once-in-a-lifetime sight.


Tim Baldwin was also surveying the flood.


Terry Nordstrom was one of many onlookers photographing the high water.


While curious sightseers didn't seem to be in anybody's way in downtown St. Paul, it's been a different story along the St. Croix River. Several communities have restricted access to their streets allowing only local residents in. Washington County Sheriff's Department Sergeant Gary Swanson says keeping people off of dikes and out of flooded neighborhoods continues to be a major challenge.


In Newport on the Mississippi River, police have also blocked off several streets.

The dikes have been holding and rivers have been receding, but flood conditions are by no means a thing of the past. Lyle Shaller of the National Weather Service says it's going to take some time for the rivers to drain back to normal levels.


And Shaller says heavy rain could raise flood waters quickly.

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