The high waters of the Mississippi River are starting to recede in St. Paul.
The water level was the 8th highest ever recorded in the city, but apart from some shallow water on Shepard Road and some water on the floor of the pavilion on Harriet Island, the impact has been minor.
The city has escaped any significant damage, partly because officials long ago cleared out some of the most flood-prone areas.
Rick Larkin, the city's director of emergency management, said historic areas like the old Little Italy neighborhood are gone.
"Over time, folks have experienced that history," Larkin said. "But they've also experienced the heartache of those floods."
City officials decided to protect the floodplain and natural areas, while also clearing developments to avoid flood damage.
St. Paul started its first levees in 1961 on the flats across from the Union Depot train station.
It took 35 years to finish the downtown levees, and engineers didn't finish the $30 million floodwall around the downtown airport until about a year ago.
Officials said that dike worked to keep some water at the far southern end of the airport dry. The floodwaters are much lower than in 2001, when the National Guard had to move its helicopters to keep them from getting wet.
There had been some concern about the condos on Upper Landing getting flooded, but the appear to still be dry. And Larkin said the water is still about a foot below the floor at Cityhouse, an old grain terminal on the river across from Harriet Island.
The Great Lawn on Harriet Island, however, is completely flooded, and the Wiggington Pavilion has water on the floor. But officials said it was designed to handle flooding, and equipment that could have been damaged was removed ahead of time.
The parking lots at Hidden Falls Park, located southwest of downtown, are also flooded.
Officials said they will wait for the river to return to its banks before they lift road closures and open riverside parks again.
Meanwhile, Larkin said this year's minor flooding might redefine what flooding means in St. Paul.
"I think because of the impacts, you may see the National Weather Service raise the definition of a major flood event in the city of St. Paul," he said.
Right now, forecasters define anything over 15 feet as "moderate flooding" in St. Paul, and anything over 17 feet is considered "major flooding."
The record for flooding in St. Paul was set in 1965, when the water reached nearly 26 1/2 feet.