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Flooding closes Riverside Park as La Crosse prepares for midweek crest
Peter Thomson, La Crosse Tribune 

Onlookers take in the spectacle of the flooding Mississippi River Monday in Riverside Park. The river is expected to crest on Wednesday or Thursday.

City officials closed Riverside Park Monday due to moderate flooding from the Mississippi River.

The river is now flush with the sidewalks through the park, having reached 14.44 feet at 4:15 p.m. The river is expected to crest Wednesday at about 14.7 feet, according to the latest projections from the National Weather Service.

This puts the 2019 spring floods on track to reach seventh in La Crosse’s history books for record crests. The flood of 1965 holds the record for highest crest at 17.96 feet.

Jennifer Lu / Jennifer Lu La Crosse Tribune 

Riverside Park in La Crosse is taking its name literally on Monday, April 1 as the Mississippi River experiences moderate flooding in La Crosse.

This year’s crest is expected to last 18 hours before receding to 14.1 feet by Monday.

“Flood level predictions are fortunately coming in slightly lower than previously forecasted,” said La Crosse Fire Chief Ken Gilliam by email. “The city of La Crosse has taken our normal precautionary measures for flooding and all systems are working well.”

Copeland Park, Pettibone Park, Veterans Freedom Park boat landing, La Crosse River Marsh Trails, Hixon Forest and Upper Hixon Forest also are closed at this time. The city said the parks would reopen after conditions improve.

Goose Island Campground, Goose Island Park and Hwy. GI are also closed due to flooding, according to La Crosse County officials. Questions about campsites, shelters or any other concerns can be directed to the La Crosse County Facilities Department at 608-785-9770.

Town of Campbell police are asking residents whose homes are likely to flood to block their basement floor drains, shower drains and toilets, even if it means letting the basement flood.

When floodwater gets in the drains, it could overwhelm the pumps and cause a sewage backup, said Campbell police chief Drew Gavrilos.

The police department also warned that basement walls are not “flood proof” and could collapse under the pressure of sump pumping.

On Sunday, volunteers knocked on doors to provide information and sandbags to Campbell residents. Sandbags are also available at the Campbell town hall, Gavrilos said.

Residents can also register their cellphone numbers with CodeRed, a community emergency notification system, Gavrilos said.

Campbell also recommended that residents drink bottled or boiled water until tests confirm their well water is safe because wells can be contaminated during flooding.

Pages of the past: La Crosse Tribune stories and photos from the Great Flood of 1965
Pages of the past: La Crosse Tribune stories and photos from the Great Flood of 1965

La Crosse officials stress safety during flood

La Crosse County residents need to take the proper safety precautions as flood waters begin to invade shores, roads and homes.

“Fast-moving water will lead to dangerous conditions along the river,” according to a statement from the La Crosse County Emergency Management Office.

Sandbag structures are the first line of defense, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Ken Gilliam

La Crosse County residents can purchase sandbags at most hardware stores but if they’re having trouble finding any, they should contact the La Crosse Fire Department for further assistance, Fire Chief Ken Gilliam said.

Sandbags, which are 14 inches wide and 24 inches long, are made of treated burlap and plastic, filled one-half to two-thirds full and should be left untied, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The fire chief also said there aren’t many road closures and future closures will be clearly marked.

The La Crosse County Emergency Management website has more information about the dangers of driving in water, sandbag, wound management and where to get help.

Drunken man impaled by stick after jumping off overpass in La Crosse

A drunken man was impaled by a stick in his buttocks after police say he jumped off an overpass on Sunday.

Charges are pending against Trevyn J. Sanders, 21, for two counts of bail jumping, and he also has an outstanding city of La Crosse municipal warrant, according to the police report.

Police said dispatch received a report about 3:21 p.m. that a man “jumped off the bridge on the north side of the overhead and was bleeding from his butt after landing on a stick” at 2700 State Road.

An ambulance took Sanders to Gundersen Medical Center, according to the report.

Sanders’ girlfriend said Sanders drank half a liter of vodka and, according to police, his preliminary blood-alcohol content was 0.162 percent.

Sanders also had a no-contact bond condition with his girlfriend, who insisted on going to the hospital with him, according to police.

La Crosse County Circuit Court felony cases in March
La Crosse County Circuit Court felony cases in March
Police received a report that a man “jumped off the bridge” and was bleeding from his butt. Charges are pending.


Brewers' Christian Yelich reacts after his winning double during the ninth inning Sunday at Miller Park. 

Trump's threat to close border stirs fears of economic harm

EL PASO, Texas — President Donald Trump’s threat to shut down the southern border raised fears Monday of dire economic consequences in the U.S. and an upheaval of daily life in a stretch of the country that relies on the international flow of not just goods and services but also students, families and workers.

Politicians, business leaders and economists warned that such a move would block incoming shipments of fruits and vegetables, TVs, medical devices and other products and cut off people who commute to their jobs or school or come across to go shopping.

“Let’s hope the threat is nothing but a bad April Fools’ joke,” said economist Dan Griswold at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University in Virginia. He said Trump’s threat would be the “height of folly,” noting that an average of 15,000 trucks and $1.6 billion in goods cross the border every day.

“If trade were interrupted, U.S. producers would suffer crippling disruptions of their supply chains, American families would see prices spike for food and cars, and U.S. exporters would be cut off from their third-largest market,” he said.

Meanwhile, Trump is considering bringing on a “border” or “immigration czar” to coordinate immigration policies across various federal agencies, according to several people familiar with the discussions.

Trump is weighing at least two potential candidates for the post: Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli — two far-right conservatives with strong views on immigration, according to the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

White House press aides, Kobach and Cuccinelli did not immediately respond Monday to requests for comment.

Trump brought up the possibility of closing ports of entry along the southern border Friday and revisited it in tweets over the weekend because of a surge of Central Americans migrants who are seeking asylum. Trump administration officials have said the influx is straining the immigration system to the breaking point.

Elected leaders from border communities stretching from San Diego to cities across Texas warned that havoc would ensue on both sides of the international boundary if the ports were closed. They were joined by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which said such a step would inflict “severe economic harm.”

In California’s Imperial Valley, across from Mexicali, Mexico, farmers rely on workers who come across every day from Mexico to harvest fields of lettuce, carrots, onions and other winter vegetables. Shopping mall parking lots in the region are filled with cars with Mexican plates.

More than 60 percent of all Mexican winter produce consumed in the U.S. crosses into the country at Nogales, Arizona. The winter produce season is especially heavy right now, with the import of Mexican-grown watermelons, grapes and squash, said Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas.

He said 11,000 to 12,000 commercial trucks cross the border at Nogales daily, laden with about 50 million pounds of produce such as eggplants, tomatoes, bell peppers, lettuce, cucumbers and berries.

He said a closing of the border would lead to immediate layoffs and result in shortages and price increases at grocery stores and restaurants.

“If this happens — and I certainly hope it doesn’t — I’d hate to go into a grocery store four or five days later and see what it looks like,” Jungmeyer said.

Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz, chairman of the Texas Border Coalition, said a closure would be catastrophic.

“Closing the border would cause an immediate depression in border state communities and, depending on the duration, a recession in the rest of the country,” he said.

“Our business would end,” said Marta Salas, an employee at an El Paso shop near the border that sells plastic flowers that are used on the Mexican side by families holding quinceañeras, the traditional coming-of-age celebrations.

Salas said her whole family, including relatives who attend the University of Texas at El Paso, would be affected if the border were closed.

“There are Americans who live there. I have nephews who come to UTEP, to grade school, to high school every day,” Salas said.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration said Monday as many as 2,000 U.S. inspectors who screen cargo and vehicles at ports of entry along the Mexican border could be reassigned to help handle the surge of migrants. Currently, about 750 inspectors are being reassigned.

That, too, could slow the movement of trucks and people across the border.

“If trade were interrupted, U.S. producers would suffer crippling disruptions of their supply chains, American families would see prices spike for food and cars, and U.S. exporters would be cut off from their third-largest market.” Dan Griswold, economist

Ken Gilliam

Online today: Dark La Crosse Stories

In the third episode of Dark La Crosse Stories, the library archives team weaves a horrid true tale of grave robbing, mutilation and a possible haunting in a mystery that alludes police to this day. To see the full story, go to