Record-high water levels continue to rise along Rainy Lake and the Rainy River — and that has businesses along the shorelines keeping a close watch.
Fort Frances La Place Rendezvous owner Paul Noonan said his docks are submerged and sandbags guard the restaurant's patio deck.
So far, the building is not at risk, he said.
“I would say [we’re] probably … three feet away from that happening, where we would have to sandbag the whole lakefront or the whole shorefront of our property,” he said. “We have 400 feet of lakefront property here.”
Noonan noted Rainy Lake is at the highest he's seen since the mid-1970s.
Officials in Fort Frances say water levels haven't crested yet, and are expected to rise another 40 cm.
“That's why I'm concerned that we're going to have to add to [the sandbags],” he said.
“The word is that there's still water working its way through the system.”
Docks breaking off
That's bad news for Rusty Myers’ Fly-in Outposts, where staff and volunteers are trying to save buildings and equipment.
“The dock furthest out broke off this morning,” said worker Darlyss Krienke.
“We've now jacked up our walk-in fridge and our dock shed to try to save that.”
She also noted they can't park their planes because their docks are unusable.
“So we've been using [other people’s] docks on the river … we have to load one plane at a time … [and that] puts us behind."
Hazards for boaters
Rainy Lake Coppens Resort owner Kelly Plichta said rising water has made the building where people clean the fish they catch unusable, and it's also shut down their gas pump.
She said people can still go out and fish but, "the only thing is we can't sell them gas and to get at the minows and whatnot, we have to walk through the water."
They're warning anglers to be careful in the water due to lots of debris in the lake.
Just across the border, International Falls resident and avid boater Eric Johnson said Rainy Lake is littered with pieces of broken docks and downed trees.
“There's a lot of debris out in the water which … makes it very hazardous for boating, even during the daytime,” he said.
"It's all wood of one way, shape or form. But a good portion of it is existing docks that have broken loose and lumber from them."
The town of Fort Frances has also sent out a warning this week about debris in the water.