UPDATE 9:55 p.m.: New projections from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers suggest the Mississippi River will not set a new crest record at Chester, as had been predicted. Projections now call for a crest of 47.5 feet on Saturday. The record, set in 1993, is 49.7 feet
But a record crest still is predicted for the Mississippi at Cape Girardeau, Mo. The crest there is expected to reach 48.5 feet on Sunday. The record there is 47.9 feet, set in 1993.
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UPDATE 9:20 p.m.: The Coast Guard has restricted traffic on the Mississippi River from mile marker 110 near Chester to mile marker 34 near Billings Landing, Missouri.
Coast Guard Capt. Richard Timme restricted vessel traffic between mile markers 110 and 34 to ensure passing marine traffic does not put additional pressure on the federal levee systems, while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers performs flood-control missions.
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UPDATE 7:45 p.m.: The latest from Herb Simmons of St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency on the situation at Water Street in Cahokia:
“The water on the bridge is from a drain pipe and not the water level within the canal. This is being monitored continously by both the Prairie Du Pont and Metro East levee districts, St. Clair County EMA along with the Army Corps of Engineers. There is no need for evacuations, and all decisions are being evaluated and made with the interests of the citizens in mind.”
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UPDATE 7:30 p.m.: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says that flood water from the Mississippi River and its tributaries has spilled over nine federal levees in the St. Louis area.
Forecast maps released Wednesday afternoon show reduced flooding risks at another 10 area levees deemed vulnerable one day previously. Corps spokesman Rene Poche says that most of the overtopped levees protect primarily agricultural areas.
Eleven levees still face “possible significant distress” including one in Valley Park, Missouri. The St. Louis suburb has ordered mandatory evacuations of hundreds of homes and dozens of businesses near the rising Meramec River.
Poche said that “no one is in imminent danger” if the Valley Park levee spills over. He and other Corps officials also emphasized that the affected levees were not breached.
At least 20 deaths over several days in Missouri and Illinois were blamed on flooding, mostly involving vehicles that drove onto swamped roadways, and at least two people were still missing Wednesday.
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UPDATE 6:50 p.m.: Latest info from Cahokia area:
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UPDATE 6:25 p.m.: The Missouri Department of Transportation has announced that I-55 could be closed at the Meramec River near Arnold as river levels at this site are at historic levels. Although MoDOT crews are working to keep the highway open, the river is rising so fast they are preparing for the fact that their efforts may not be enough.
Those who may be traveling between St. Louis County and Jefferson County should be advised that I-55 could be closed overnight or sometime Thursday.
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UPDATE 6:10 p.m.: The Coast Guard has closed a portion of the Illinois River prior to where it joins the Mississippi River.
Coast Guard Capt. Martin Malloy closed the portion of the river from Hardin to Grafton due to high water levels.
“Although the weather has been favorable recently, the river levels are still rising from earlier rainfall to the north,” Malloy said. “We are prepared to respond and we’ve increased our resources in the area.”
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UPDATE 5:55 p.m.: Gov. Bruce Rauner on Wednesday added Clinton and four other counties to the state disaster declaration for widespread flooding.
The other four counties are Alexander, Christan, Douglas and Morgan.
This brings the statewide total of declared counties to 12. On Tuesday, Rauner declared disasters in Calhoun, Jackson, Jersey, Madison, Monroe, Randolph and St. Clair counties.
“While the rains have stopped, we’re continuing to see more communities battling flood waters in order to protect their residents and critical facilities,” Rauner said. “The state of Illinois will continue to support these local efforts with personnel and resources throughout this flood event.”
Rauner will return to Springfield Thursday evening and will spend the following several days in central and southern Illinois viewing flood damage, thanking volunteers and ensuring communities have everything they need.
A state disaster declaration makes a wide variety of state resources available that can help communities respond and recover from flooding. Such resources include sandbags, sand, pumps, trucks and other heavy equipment and other assistance to ensure public safety.
The state Emergency Operations Center in Springfield was activated Monday morning to coordinate the state’s flood response. The EOC will remain open until the threat has passed.
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UPDATE 4:30 p.m.: Local emergency crews anticipate local river levels to crest between Thursday and Saturday.
St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency Director Herb Simmons said emergency crews continue to monitor the Water Street Canal Bridge in Cahokia near the Mississippi River, which was expected to crest in St. Louis at 43.1 feet by 1 p.m. Thursday. He said the Kaskaskia River is forecast to crest by Saturday.
“We’re just monitoring the Kaskaskia at the New Athens area where they predict another 4-foot rise crest,” Simmons said. “We’ve had several citizens from other areas call concerned, and we’re just waiting to see what support we need to give them.”
In Madison County, the county Emergency Management Agency was wrapping up sandbagging along Sugar Alley, at Broadway and State Street in Alton, where the Mississippi River was expected to crest as soon as Thursday.
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UPDATE 4:20 p.m.: Three state historic sites in southwestern Illinois have closed temporarily due to flooding: Fort de Chartres, Fort Kaskaskia and the Pierre Menard Home.
Rising waters have made the sites and nearby roads unsafe.
All three sites are in Randolph County.
Fort de Chartres is a re-creation of a fort built by the French military in the 1750s. It was declared a national historic landmark in 1960. The fort’s original powder magazine is still intact, making it the oldest building in Illinois.
Volunteers are helping to clear the site’s museum and other buildings in case flood waters reach them.
Fort Kaskaskia, near the town of Ellis Grove, preserves the remnants of a French fort built to defend the town of Kaskaskia and contains a historic cemetery.
Nearby is the Pierre Menard Home, a notable French Creole-style home built in 1815 by the first lieutenant governor of Illinois.
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UPDATE 4:05 p.m.: Here’s Illinois Department of Transportation’s live road-closure map:
And here’s the latest IDOT closure list for the region:
- Chester Bridge (IL-150) is closed in Chester, IL (Randolph County) due to flooding. MODOT is handling the closure.
- IL 100 is closed between US-67 and IL-16 due to flooding. (Calhoun/Madison County)
- Marine Road from Lake Road to Hunter School Road closed due to flooding. (Madison County)
- Old Alton Edwardsville Road closed between Bender Road and IL-143. (Madison County)
- Brussels Ferry is closed due to flooding of Rt-100. (Calhoun County)
- East Chain of Rocks Rd. at Sand Rd. is closed due to flooding. (Madison County)
- IL-3 at the Truck By-Pass in Randolph Co. is closed due to the rising Mississippi River.
- IL-3 closed from the Randolph/Jackson County line to Chester, IL due to flooding.
- US-50 between Rieder Rd. and Belleville St. is closed due to flooding. (St. Clair County)
- SB US-67 from Clark Bridge to IL-143 closed due to flooding. (Madison County)
- Kaskaskia Street in front of the Menard Prison closed due to flooding. (Randolph County)
- IL-155 is closed at Prairie Du Rocher due to flooding. (Randolph County)
- IL-100 at RT-96 junction closed due to flooding. (Calhoun County)
- IL-3 is closed from County Highway 2 to the Cove Levy Gate due to flooding. (Randolph County)
- IL-3 is closed at East Broadway Street in Alton due to the levy district closing the flood gates. (Madison County)
- Il-96 and Mozier is closed due to flooding. near the city of Calhoun
- Il-100 in Alton to pearl is closed through traffic. due to flooding
- IL-3 is closed at IL-100 due to flooding.
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UPDATE 3:30 p.m.: Business owners in Alton were scrambling Wednesday to keep out rising water from the Mississippi River.
Most of the damage by Wednesday afternoon was confined to high water in some downtown basements. City firefighters worked to unclog flooded storm drains behind a 7-seven-foot-high, 1,000-foot-long temporary retaining wall reinforced by gravel and sandbags.
The Argosy Alton casino remained closed, as did the southbound lane of the main highway connecting the city to Missouri.
Alton Mayor Brant Walker said he’s “very optimistic that what we’ve built here will hold” as the Mississippi River is expected to crest at 38 feet on Thursday, 17 feet above flood stage.
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UPDATE 3:25 p.m.: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it is not planning to open a southeastern Missouri floodway in response to the swollen Mississippi River — at least not yet.
The corps put the floodway near Charleston, Missouri, to use in 2011, blasting holes in the Birds Point levee to displace enough water to save nearby Cairo, Illinois, from a potentially devastating flood.
Cairo is at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. In 2011, the Ohio there crested a record 22 feet above flood stage before the floodway was thrust into use, swamping 130,000 acres. Several Missouri homes were destroyed.
But the corps says the crest at Cairo would need to reach 20 feet above flood stage. And as of midday Wednesday, the river was expected to peak a foot below that late Sunday or early Monday.
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UPDATE 2:55 p.m.: A state conservation police officer on flood patrol at Carlyle Lake ended up bagging three alleged poachers:
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UPDATE 2:40 p.m.: Bridge at Chester now closed:
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UPDATE 2:10 p.m.: The threat of rising waters in Randolph County has prompted Ameren Illinois to ready a mobile substation.
Ameren Illinois spokesman Brian Bretsch said crews from the electric utility have brought a mobile substation into Praire Du Rocher.
Bretsch said crews connected it in case of a levee breach in the area that would lead to the flooding at the permanent substation in the area.
UPDATE 1:45 p.m.: See our flood map to track the videos and stories coming in from our local communities.
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UPDATE 1:20 p.m.: The projected crest level for the Kaskaskia River at New Athens is expected to be four feet higher than initially predicted.
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UPDATE 12:30 p.m.: According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, six roads previously closed due to flooding have been reopened. Those roads are:
Chain of Rocks Road between Illinois 111 and Illinois 157 in Madison County; I-70 in both directions in Bond County between the 36 and 45 mile markers (Pocahontas to Greenville); Old Alton–Edwardsville Road in Edwardsville; Illinois 161 in Mascoutah from Scott Air Force Base gate to Sixthth Street; US 40 in Bond County; and Illinois 159 north of Illinois 143 in Edwardsville.
Check IDOT’s emergency road closure list for updates on road conditions in the area.
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UPDATE 12:20 p.m.: Politicians have been making the rounds, visiting locations affected by flooding and discussing disaster response with local officials.
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UPDATE 11:00 a.m.: Carlyle Mayor Mike Burton and other Clinton County officials are hoping to add the county to the list of Illinois counties declared disaster areas due to flooding.
Gov. Bruce Rauner issued a disaster proclamation for seven counties — Calhoun, Jackson, Jersey, Madison, Monroe, Randolph and St. Clair — on Tuesday.
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UPDATE 10:45 a.m.: The Army Corps of Engineers on Wednesday adjusted the predicted crest at Carlyle Lake upward to 458.5 feet by Saturday, up from Tuesday’s prediction of 455 feet.
Carlyle Lake’s highest recorded crest was 459.8 feet in 2002.
Due to the flooding, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources has ordered the closure of Eldon Hazlet State Park, required all campers using the campsites to leave and has suspended pheasant hunting around the lake. The entry road to the park is expected to flood at the newly predicted crest.
The closure of the park is effective until further notice.
Carlyle city workers on Wednesday sand-bagged around utility boxes near the lake.
Workers at West Access Marina at Carlyle Lake moved sailboats and other property to higher ground.
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UPDATE 10:05 a.m.: The Mississippi River remains closed to all boat traffic, according to the United States Coast Guard.
Lt. Sean Haley said Wednesday that Lock & Dam 24, upriver at Clarksville, Mo., is now open but all traffic below that point is closed.
There’s no timetable for when river traffic in the St. Louis area will resume.
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UPDATE 9:50 a.m.: Madison County officials said Wednesday morning that the threat of rising water along smaller creeks and streams has ended and their priority is protecting Alton from the rising Mississippi.
A sandbagging operation that started Sunday continues and all roads leading into the downtown area are closed. Water already has risen to the intersection of Broadway and State Street.
The river at Alton will crest Thursday at 38 feet, according to the latest prediction from the National Weather Service. That’s the second-highest the river has ever been there. The record crest was 42.37 feet on Aug. 1, 1993.
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UPDATE 9:30 a.m.: The Mississippi River is still rising Wednesday, but there’s some good news: According to the National Weather Service, the river will crest Thursday at St. Louis at 43.6 feet, a few inches below what was previously predicted.
But in Chester, where the river is expected to crest Friday – and where some Menard Correctional Center inmates already have been relocated ahead of the advancing waters – the river level is still expected to match the record crest set during the 1993 flood.
This detailed chart from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources shows past, current and predicted river conditions for the Mississippi River and its tributaries.
The disaster proclamation issued Tuesday by Gov. Bruce Rauner for Calhoun, Jackson, Jersey, Madison, Monroe, Randolph and St. Clair counties remains in effect. A flood warning for the metro-east also remains in effect until 12:15 p.m.
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Reporters Casey Bischel, Brian Brueggemann and Tobias Wall and The Associated Press contributed information for this story.