Flooding won’t deter businesses, community in Red Wing area says locals

Flooding problems have calmed for the moment before most rivers start rising again this weekend.

But the damage is already evident in some riverside homes and businesses.

The Mississippi River is almost four feet above flood stage in Red Wing and Levee Park is mostly under water.

The park is also the best vantage point to see across the river where flooding has shut down some businesses on the Wisconsin side.

The current of the Mississippi is flowing fast past Hager City’s Harbor Bar and the water came into the bar itself with the same kind of speed.

"I’ve been dealing with the flood since I was a little kid and there’s only one other time I remember the river coming in this fast," bar owner Brad Smith told FOX 9.

He says everything left in the bar is wet and ruined.

The road to the bar is basically a river itself.

But after experiencing flooding several times since his family took it over in 1964 — and marking the height every time — he was mostly prepared when the water came in last Saturday.

"I flood-proof most of the place," Smith said. "Just come in and hose it down and start pushing the mud out."

Smith says he expects flooding every five years or so and it takes him about three years to recover financially.

"That’s probably the biggest devastating part of it.," he said. "You know, the cleanup and the mess, it’s just more work, but being out of business and losing your income, you know, that’s the hard part."

But he says he’ll never leave his life along the river.

And neither would Charlie and Becky Nelson.

"I wouldn’t give it up for anything," Charlie Nelson said.

The Nelsons walked into the water to board a boat and travel through the flood waters to get to their home of 45 years.

They’ve had to do this during three previous floods and their basement frequently fills with water.

And still, they love where they live.

"This is just to me, to us, I think just an inconvenience," Charlie Nelson said.

The Mississippi has crested in Red Wing for the moment, but it’s expected to rise at least another foot starting sometime this weekend.