By Alec Oas
US Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) visited Winona to speak with city officials as they prepare for possible major flooding at the Mississippi River.
Flood risks are high at this time, with water being reported nine feet above flood stage earlier this morning, and a prediction of upwards of 16 feet sometime next week.
Due to an unusual winter packed with precipitation unlike anything we've seen in the last few decades, there is a heightened risk for major flooding along the Mississippi, so the city is getting prepared with sandbags on reserve at the city airport.
"Every time you hear that word Winter of the Century or Storm of the Century, Mother Nature says 'hold my beer,' and then you see another one," Sen. Klobuchar said.
The city has a history of remarkable floods, including the famous flood of 1965 where the river surpassed 20 feet above flood stage.
Sen. Klobuchar shared that federal emergency funds through FEMA are available during times of crises like major flooding that are used to cover damages caused to public infrastructure.
"The standard for the state is $10 million in damage to public infrastructure," Klobuchar said. "When we have FEMA-level events, coming with that is flood mitigation money."
While city officials seem confident that it is extremely unlikely that the levee will need to be raised, it isn't out of the question, according to the city's public works director Brian DeFrang.
"It is a protocol that we are prepared for, what we would end up doing is not individually sandbagging but we would put big plastic down, put material on top of it, and then wrap it," DeFrang said.
Cities up and down the river will be working together to communicate flood levels as the issue continues to be monitored.