Towns brace for major flooding as Mississippi River continues rise

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by KMOV.com staff staff Associated Press

KMOV.com

Posted on June 2, 2013 at 8:53 PM

Updated Friday, Dec 6 at 7:08 PM

ALTON, Ill. -- The rain-swollen Mississippi River is continuing its rise as some waterfront communities in the Metro East try to fend off the rising water.

In Alton, northeast of St. Louis, the Argosy casino along the river is closed because of flooding that’s also blocked off access to the Great River Road leading from Alton north to Grafton.

“Every department in the city has come together to make sure we pull this off very well,” said Major Brant Walter.

The National Weather Service says the river at Alton was at 33.8 feet, 13 feet above flood stage on Monday morning. The NWS predicts a crest at Alton on Tuesday, June 4, at approximately 34.5 feet.

This crest is higher than the approximately 30.6 foot crest in April, but lower than originally forecasted, and still well short of 1993’s record 42.7 feet.

“There’s nothing you can do,” said Judy Eglehoff, owner of Catdaddy’s downtown. “They’ve got a concrete barricade and sandbags. At a certain point, the river wins.”

On Monday morning, the Army Corps of Engineers told News 4 they would begin pumping air into relief wells, hoping to take some pressure off the levee.

Riverfront Park is closed.

The Argosy Casino is closed and anticipates being closed for four days.  The Con Agra Mill has implemented their flood plan.  No other businesses in Alton are closed as of the printing of this release.

As with the flood in April, the City of Alton has used, and plans to use again, an automated sandbagging machine from Madison County.  The machine was used on Friday and filled approximately 1,000 sandbags.  An additional 1,000 sandbags were filled on Sunday.  The City has approximately 4,000 sandbags.

 

The City of Alton has also erected a 320 foot Jersey barrier flood wall.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is pumping air into about 60 relief wells to increase the flow of water through the wells into the ponding area and relieve pressure from the levee.  By doing this, the Corps can keep uncontrolled seepage in check and effectively lower the pressure on the levee by the equivalent of about four feet. 

They also have geotechnical engineers on site around the clock to ensure the levee is performing as designed and are watching for any emerging issues throughout this flood event. 

In Grafton, where April floodwaters encroached on the city’s downtown, the river was forecast to crest early Monday afternoon at 30.4 feet, more than 12 feet above flood stage.

Drivers are advised not to drive through water covering roads because the condition of the road underneath the water is unknown.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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