Minnesota Park Cleans the Mud from Flood

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April 26, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

Boat deck and sand beach at Prairie Island Campground, Winona, Minn. The bluffs of the Mississippi River are visible in the background.

Russ Hoesley hoisted a metal shelf and reached to fit it in place. He stood back from the work and looked at the inside of Prairie Island Campground’s information office, still in shambles Monday (April 25) from the off season.

Flooding left behind mud and debris in this public campground near Winona, Minn., and Hoesley, campground manager, will likely spend the next month cleaning up and putting things back into place.

“I wanted to do a bunch of painting this year,” he said. “But I got all this extra work to do.”

With help from a few volunteers, Hoesley hopes to have the campgrounds ready for Memorial Day weekend and an expected crowd of 750 to 1,000 campers, the Winona Daily News reported.

In 17 years, Hoesley has cleared the remains of four big floods, and is well-practiced at managing the repair of Winona’s flood-susceptible park. The campground is always the first to be flooded, according to the National Weather Service, filling with water when the city flood gauge hits 13 feet.

As soon as the water recedes, Hoesley starts clean up by mopping the office floor with bleach.

The Mississippi River crested April 15 and settled down below flood stage a week later, leaving behind much less damage than the 2001 flood, Hoesley said.

“In 2001, we had two inches of mud and a dead fish in here,” he said, laughing. “It was up so high for so long.”

Still, Hoesley and his helpers will spend the next few weeks clearing debris, repositioning docks, and taking gear out of the showers on high ground and moving them to storage.

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