When Lynn Kasper and her family from Cedar, Minn., decided to go camping in La Crosse, Wis., at the Pettibone RV Park, they expected to have a relaxing week on the campground, WEAU-TV, Eau Claire, Wis., reported.
But when they got there on Thursday night (Sept. 23), they were told they couldn’t stay because of rising flood water.
“We were able to walk through our campsite, but the next day it was flooded,” Lynn said.
So they decided to camp in the parking lot.
“Our friend went and bought a fire pit so we can have a fire,” Lynn said. “We still cook outside, we still eat outside we still do everything that we do when we’re camping.”
On Friday, the city of La Crosse closed Pettibone Park along the Mississippi River due to high flood waters.
“In this case, the river did come up fairly fast,” said La Crosse Flood Plain Manager Doug Kerns. “Friday at about 1 o’clock, I measured on the gage down here it was 8.95 feet and by Sunday morning, it was almost up to 13.”
Kerns says flooding starts at 10 feet. On Monday, floodwaters were up to 13.5 feet. Kerns says if the water reaches 15 feet they pay close attention to the levees.
“Anything within the city now has been addressed with evacuation orders to remove stuff from the flood plains in those areas,” Kerns said.
Kerns says the city hasn’t seen flood water this high all year.
“I believe in the spring, the highest recorded water elevation on the flood stage gage was 12.5 or 12.4, so we’re about a foot above that now,” Kerns said.
And although the city closed Pettibone Park, and the pier along Riverside Park is under water, Kerns says the river is beginning to crest.
“As you can see with the water behind us here, [in Pettibone Park], it seems to be flowing back to the river, which leads me to believe that a certain amount of it is coming down already,” Kerns said.
But Kerns says it will likely take about a week before the water is back down to normal levels and even more time before Pettibone Park reopens.
“Once this gets down below flood stage, the crews can come in here and clean up any damage,” Kerns said.
But by the time the Pettibone RV Park Campgrounds are cleaned up, Lynn and her family will have rolled out.
“It’s inconvenient,” Lynn says with a shoulder shrug, “but it’s not a huge deal.”
Kerns says it will probably be a couple of weeks before Pettibone Park reopens. He says as long as the area doesn’t receive much more rainfall, the river should be back to normal water levels in about a week.