Work crews from the Metropolitan Airports Commission Monday began building temporary sections of a floodwall at the St. Paul Downtown Airport, in preparation for expected spring flooding.
This is the fourth time the floodwall has been erected at the airport. It takes about a week for workers to install temporary sections of the dike.
Metropolitan Airports Commission Spokesman Patrick Hogan says the wall is designed to protect the airport against flood waters rising to just over 25.5 feet. The only time the Mississippi River flood waters crested higher than that in St. Paul was in 1965.
"When we developed the floodwall, we thought we'd only have to put it up every few years, but last year we put it up twice, the year before once, and now we are putting it up again this year," Hogan said.
Officials say that as the water rises, they will close storm sewer gates to prevent river water from backing up onto the airport. Pumps will also be activated to any drain any water that does collect there.
Meanwhile, the city of St. Paul issued an emergency declaration for flooding Monday.
Far from declaring a state of emergency, city spokesman Richard Carlborn says Monday's announcement means St. Paul will now begin tracking the costs of preparing and fighting flooding. The money has to be tracked in order for St. Paul to be reimbursed through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
City officials will continually monitor National Weather Service updates and water levels.
The declaration also ensures that the various departments in the city work together to prepare and coordinate St. Paul's flood response once it becomes necessary.
(The Associated Press contributed to the report.)