Abandon houseboat? Ice and rising water threaten Latsch Island lifestyle


The Winona bridge is seen from the 2nd floor of Doug Johnson's houseboat.
1 The Winona bridge is seen from the second floor of Doug Johnson's houseboat on Latsch Island near Winona, Minn., on Thursday, March 14, 2019. 
Ice and snow encase John Rupkey's home on Latsch Island.
2 Ice and snow encase John Rupkey's home on Latsch Island near Winona, Minn., on Thursday, March 14, 2019. A houseboat should have at least 18 inches of clearance to be safe from flooding according to Richie Swanson. 
John Rupkey points to the 14 inches of ice encasing his houseboat.
3 John Rupkey points to the 14 inches of ice encasing his houseboat on Latsch Island near Winona, Minn., on Thursday, March 14, 2019. Some residents have used chain saws and ice augers to free their homes, but the ice is too thick near Rupkey's houseboat. 
John Rupkey stands on the deck of his houseboat.
4 John Rupkey stands on the deck of his houseboat on Latsch Island near Winona, Minn., on Thursday, March 14, 2019. Rupkey is considering abandoning ship if his home doesn't float free from the shore soon. 
John Rupkey stands in front of his houseboat.
5 John Rupkey stands in front of his houseboat on Latsch Island near Winona, Minn., on Thursday, March 14, 2019. 
Thirty-five-year Latsch Island resident Chris Parnell uses a sled.
6 Thirty-five-year Latsch Island resident Chris Parnell uses a sled to drag firewood to his houseboat near Winona, Minn., on Thursday, March 14, 2019. His houseboat is still frozen and beached, but he's confident it will break free before the water rises. 
Holes made by an ice auger surround Richie Swanson's houseboat.
7 Holes made by an ice auger surround Richie Swanson's houseboat on Latsch Island near Winona, Minn., on Thursday, March 14, 2019. He drilled the holes to help with home break free as waters rise. 
Richie Swanson shows off a bruise he got using an auger.
8 Richie Swanson shows off a bruise he got using an auger to free his houseboat from the frozen banks of the Mississippi River on Latsch Island near Winona, Minn., on Thursday, March 14, 2019. Swanson is the president of the Latsch Island Boathouse Association.