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Dozens rescued after ice jam causes rapid rise on Sauk River, flooding Anton's Restaurant in Waite Park

An ice jam caused the river to rise unexpectedly Saturday night.

An ice jam on the Sauk River in the St. Cloud-area caused an unexpected, rapid rise in water levels that sent the overflowing river rushing into a popular restaurant with more than 40 people still inside on Saturday night. 

Anton's Restaurant, located at 2001 Frontage Road North in Waite Park, flooded around 7:30 p.m. 

KNSI reports that approximately 44 people were evacuated by Waite Park, St. Cloud and St. Joseph fire departments, which used ice and water rescue boats to take them to dry ground. 

"It was so powerful that the river couldn’t contain the force and pushed its way over the banks in to the parking lot and restaurant. On a Saturday night with a full house, the water swept through every room," the restaurant's Facebook page says

"We have NEVER experienced anything like this before. Yes, we’ve flooded but there has been forewarning and time to prepare."

The National Weather Service issued a flood warning because of the ice jam, which KNSI reports was broken just after 9 p.m., causing water levels to recede. 

It's unclear when the restaurant will be able to re-open, but KNSI says it'll be at least a week, with the restaurant's Facebook page indicating it'll be up and running "as soon as possible."

The incident comes amid concerns of wider flooding in Minnesota, as river levels swell from snowmelt further upstream.

Several highways have already been closed in southeastern Minnesota this week, while the City of St. Paul is shutting some of its lower-lying streets on Sunday in anticipation of flooding from the Mississippi. 

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