Volunteers prepare sandbags for flooding in Southern Illinois
Grafton’s week-by-week battle with Mississippi River flood waters will continue this week with flood levels approaching record crests.
In its latest effort, the city erected a flood wall protecting a portion of its downtown this week. It is the first levee wall that has been built in Grafton and officials are hoping it will hold back flood waters and protect the city’s main business district.
The flood wall is hoped to protect everything north of Main Street. Its materials were provided by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency..
As of Saturday, the Mississippi was forecast to crest at 46 feet in St. Louis, the second highest the river has ever been. In 1993, the river reached 49 feet. In Grafton, however, the river is expected to crest at 36 feet, about 2 feet away from a record. On Saturday, the National Weather Service delayed the river’s crest from Wednesday, June 5, to Thursday.
It was only three weeks ago when Grafton Mayor Rick Eberlin said the city would face an uphill battle after flood waters reached 32.1 feet.
“We face an uphill battle when it comes to recovering this year,” he said in early May.
“The people here are a very resilient bunch of people; we’ll bounce back from this,” he said. “But every time, it becomes increasingly more difficult, and every inch that the water comes up, it’s going to take that much longer.”
Now, residents, business owners and community leaders are dealing with higher flood levels and roughly five more days until the river crests 4 feet higher than the previous high-water mark.
Some local businesses have been damaged or closed and many residents are cut off from their homes from almost two months of flooding.
Fox 2 also reported that pumping continues throughout the city, where crews are trying to get water that has reached the dry side of the levee back to the wet side.
Local buildings are also trying to be saved, including the 185-year-old Grafton United Methodist Church that’s basement has taken on floodwater. Members of the congregation are trying to pump water out of its basement as quickly as possible.
Farther downriver, Alton’s downtown also has been struggling with rising flood waters and also took preliminary measures to secure the sewer system downtown to prevent roads from being flooded from underneath.
While the Mississippi is expected to crest Thursday, the National Weather Services forecasts only take in precipitation forecast within 24 hours of its predictions, so it is possible the crest could be delayed again.