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250 volunteers step up to fill 50,000 sandbags in Stillwater ahead of flood threat

250 volunteers step up to fill 50,000 sandbags ahead of flood threat in Stillwater
250 volunteers step up to fill 50,000 sandbags ahead of flood threat in Stillwater 02:04

STILLWATER, Minn. – A Minnesota river town is getting a jump start on protecting itself from potential, major spring flooding. 

Volunteers will spend the next five days filling 50,000 sandbags in Stillwater. The National Weather Service says the St. Croix River could overflow as the snow melts.

The Jorgensen family is from Lake Elmo, but they feel connected enough to this area to want to help protect it.

"I go to Stillwater enough that it seemed like the right thing to do, and then I told my parents about it and they just both signed up. I wasn't expecting them to, they just [said], 'We wanna help, too,'" said Tom Jorgensen.

Michelle Redlin, Hannah Campbell and Aurelia Williams are also from out of town. They are all firefighters in Mahtomedi. They wanted to help a city that helps them when they're in need.

"It's hard work, but a little hard work pays off," said Campbell. "If we have structure fires, Stillwater will mutual aid us and we'll mutual aid them, so we work pretty closely with Stillwater Fire."  


The city is tackling the threat of rising waters in three ways: sand bags, concrete barriers and a temporary berm they'll be building this week.

"We're gonna be building that to about a 692 [foot] elevation or so, so that just provides a level of protection that we need," said Shawn Sanders, Stillwater's director of public works.

Even though there's still ice on the St. Croix, Sanders says they're ready for the worse, but the forecast is helping.

"Ideally, it'd be like this for the next two months. You know, warm in the day, cool at night, slows the run off," said Sanders. "But eventually the weather's gonna get warmer, and the runoff's gonna be coming at a quicker pace."

The last time the city had to prepare this much for flooding was in 2019.

The city was able to fill every single volunteer shift this week, and they're not accepting any more help. If openings pop up throughout the week, they'll be posted here.

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