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Editorial: Stay back from river

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The Mississippi River is always an attraction. The swiftly moving and rapidly rising waters may tempt more people than usual to the riverbank this coming week, which makes this a potentially fatal attraction.

The Mississippi River had exceeded 11.5 feet Friday morning at Red Wing. Flood stage here is 14 feet, but Levee Road has been partially submerged for weeks. Now, the National Weather Service Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service projects the river will top 14.1 feet by next Friday.

Downriver at Lake City, the river had exceeded 14 feet on Friday and is expected to near the 16-foot flood stage next weekend. That’s despite Lake Pepin’s capacity to hold a tremendous volume of rainfall.

Meanwhile, parts of Red Wing’s soggy Bay Point and Colvill parks likely became submerged by the time this newspaper hit your mailbox.

The situation puts children at particular risk, so adults need to watch them and set a sensible example.

Please stand back. Don’t dip so much as a toe into the swirling, muddy waters.

There are several important reasons to exercise extra caution.

First, the current easily could suck someone in and under. The strongest swimmer doesn’t stand a chance if a fallen tree or large, submerged object caught in the flow strikes a head or entangles a limb.

Second, flood waters carry all sorts of pollutants. The Minnesota River and other tributaries feeding the Mississippi breached septic systems before bringing their tainted waters here. The contaminants and toxins can make you sick or kill you. And sickness can spread.

Third, the waters can sweep a path, shore and riprap away. You may think you’re wading safely to a park bench, but there may be nothing beneath your next step.

The same danger applies to streets and roads. Barricades are there for a reason. Don’t go around them.

Much of the flood drama is occurring elsewhere — and our hearts reach out to them. But this may lead people to the false assumption they can safely enjoy the mesmerizing power of nature here.

We don't need a drowning.

We don’t need a health epidemic.

We don’t need a motorist or bicyclist swept away.

Watch the local flooding unfold by all means, but do it from the safe vantage points that Mother Nature granted us in bluff country.

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