Metro-East News

‘Holding on’: Rauner declares disaster for 7-county region

From staff and wire reports

UPDATE 6:00 p.m.: Temperatures in the metro-east will dip below freezing Tuesday night and cold temperatures will stick around through the new year.

According to the National Weather Service, the low Tuesday will reach 28 with a 20 percent chance of snow overnight. It will be 38 and cloudy Wednesday ahead of clear skies and highs in the mid 30s New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Lows the rest of the week will dip into the mid- and low-20s.

A flood warning remains in effect in the metro-east until 12:15 p.m. Wednesday.

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UPDATE 5:28 p.m.: Here’s what it looked like above the Columbia Bottom on Tuesday afternoon:


Today's aerial photos from Flyin High Photography - photos from the Columbia bottoms, JB Bridge area as well as Gravois, Mo.

Posted by Monroe County Independent on Tuesday, December 29, 2015

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UPDATE 5:12 p.m.: Alton workers and volunteers are stacking sandbags and floodgates have been set in place to try to stave off rising floodwaters from the river.

Volunteers have stacked sandbags around the clock, according to the Alton Police Department. Some of those slinging sandbags on the shore included Madison County Emergency Management Director Larry Ringering, Chairman Alan Dunstan and Edwardsville Mayor Hal Patton, as well as 16 students from Civic Memorial High School’s athletic department, along with their coach, Jeff Pickering.

Closures include the Alton Marina and amphitheater and Argosy Casino. Many roads into and through Alton are closed due to floodwaters, including Route 3, which is blocked at East Broadway due to closed floodgates.

Southbound Route 367 is closed, and a police officer has been stationed at the bridge approach to ensure that no one corsses and no barricades are moved, police said. The Missouri Department of Transportation has informed Alton officials that they are concerned Route 67 will be underwater south of Route 94, so the road will not be split for two-late travel. Drivers are strongly advised not to drive through water-covered roads.

As of today, the water is expected to crest on Thursday at its highest level on record, police said.

The Downtown St. Louis Airport in Sauget has loaned its rescue bus as a warming station for volunteers, while the village of Godfrey had loaned a pump and generator light tower and Godfrey has loaned a mutual-aid light tower. Meanwhile, local restaurants have donated food, hot beverages and warming centers, including Mac’s Timeout, Cat Daddy’s, Firehouse, LuciAnna’s Pastries, Muddy Pub, Riverbend Yoga, State Street Market and Duke’s Bakery, according to Alton Police.

UPDATE 4:55 p.m.: Here’s what things look like inside Illinois’ Emergency Operations Center:

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UPDATE 4:50 p.m.: The latest from Illinois Department of Corrections on the situation at Menard Correctional Center:

Staff at Menard Correctional Center is preparing for a flood that could have an impact on the facility. The National Weather service predicts the Mississippi River, along Kaskaskia Street, in Menard will crest at a high of 49.7 feet, which matches the levels recorded in the great floods of 1993. At that level, there may be minor flooding inside the lower-level cell houses and basements of buildings located behind the walls.

Some offenders have been transferred to other facilities and IDOC is providing temporary, alternate housing for others, inside the facility. At this time, IDOC does not anticipate water being shut off, however, IDOC has more than 1,000 gallons of water on standby and has set up portable restrooms should there be an issue with sewage.

“Our staff has worked tirelessly to implement strategic plans and ensure the safety of the institution is not compromised,” says Acting IDOC Director John Baldwin. “Staff at the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Department of Natural Resources, the Illinois State Police, and the City of Chester have also provided hundreds of hours of manpower to help us prepare for this flood.”

IDOC offender work crews also pitched in. They filled more than 15,000 sandbags, which have been placed around the facility to protect power sources, buildings and generators.

“We have also had a tremendous response from the community,” said Warden Kimberly Butler. “Local farmers and many others stepped up to donate their time and equipment to make these efforts seamless.”

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UPDATE 4:40 p.m.: Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has issued a disaster proclamation for seven counties.

Calhoun, Jackson, Jersey, Madison, Monroe, Randolph and St. Clair counties are named in the proclamation.

“These counties have significant issues related to flooding that is already occurring or could occur over the next several days,” Rauner said in a statement. “We are committed to help local responders in these and other impacted counties ensure the safety of people affected by this unusual December flooding.”

Rauner’s office said the State Emergency Operations Center has provided around 400,000 sandbags, 160 rolls of plastic, 1,200 tons of sand as well as pumps and generators to affected areas since it was activated Monday.

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UPDATE 4:30 p.m.: Jackson County officials declared a county disaster Tuesday as river levels crept toward record highs, putting stress on the region’s aging levees, the Southern Illinoisan reported.

Meantime, officials in both Jackson and Union counties urged flood plain residents to evacuate.

Though he stressed both moves were precautionary, Jackson County Board Chairman John Rendleman said a levee breach could be catastrophic.

“If the levee breaches, lives are at risk,” Rendleman told the newspaper.

The Mississippi River is expected to crest at record levels at Chester on Friday.

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UPDATE 3:50 p.m.: Here’s IDOT’s live road-closure map for the region:

The map also is available here.

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UPDATE 3:40 p.m.: The American Red Cross of Eastern Missouri is accepting disaster relief donations in the wake of this week’s flooding.

“Red Cross disaster workers have been helping people affected by these storms since before Christmas and will continue to help them as long as needed,” said Regional CEO Cindy Erickson. “We ask everyone to remember these families who have lost everything and had their holiday celebrations tragically interrupted. Please give to Red Cross Disaster Relief. We depend on generous financial donations to provide comfort and hope to people in need.”

The Red Cross is operating shelters in Bethalto and Granite City in Illinois and in Arnold, Pacific, St. Robert, St. Charles and Cape Girardeau in Missouri. When flood waters recede, disaster assessment teams will check the extent of damage and meet with those affected to plan their next steps.

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UPDATE 3:25 p.m.: The westbound lanes of Interstate 70 near Pocahontas have opened. A section of the interstate in that area had been closed in both directions due to flooding.


Updated I-70 aerial as of 3pm today. West bound just opened up.

Posted by Aerial Eye Photography on Tuesday, December 29, 2015

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UPDATE 3:05 p.m.: Photos of Great River Road in Godfrey:


The Great River Road in Godfrey is currently covered by debris and rising water. (9am 12/29/15)

Posted by Godfrey Fire Protection District on Tuesday, December 29, 2015

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UPDATE 2:50 p.m.: The bodies of a 46-year-old woman and 49-year-old man were found in flood water in rural Christian County on Tuesday morning, the Springfield State Journal-Register reported.

Christian County Chief Deputy Bruce Engeling said authorities were still investigating, but it appears the two people, both from Edinburg, were trying to cross a flooded area and drowned. The area is north of Taylorville.

There was no evidence of foul play, but authorities won’t know the cause of death until an autopsy is completed, he said.

Deputies discovered the bodies near 1299 E. 2200 North Road, located in Buckhart Township, in water about 9:42 a.m. Tuesday.

Family members had reported the two missing. Police used location services via their cell phones to find them.

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UPDATE 2:40 p.m.: Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has called in the National Guard to assist with flood-fighting efforts.

Nixon says guard members will be used to assist first responders in providing security in evacuated areas, and to help direct traffic away from road closures. Roads are closed in nearly 500 locations across the state.

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UPDATE 2:35 p.m.: In Granite City, about 30 residents of a flooded trailer park huddled Tuesday in a Red Cross emergency shelter in a church basement. The park’s property manager told Shirley Clark, 56, and other displaced residents that it could be another 10 to 12 days before they’re able to return to their homes.

“We need help over here,” said Clark, a diabetic who said she left behind her insulin supply. “We’re just holding on.”

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UPDATE 1:55 p.m.: Construction of flood wall at Triple Lakes Road:


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UPDATE 1:25 p.m.: The latest from Illinois Department of Transportation:

The following are new road closures due to continued flooding: IL 100 Alton to Pearl closed to through traffic; IL 3 at IL 100 in Grafton; IL 100/96 intersection; IL 96 at Mozier; IL 161 in Mascoutah from SAFB gate to 6th Street; Chester Bridge; and US 67 southbound into Missouri is closed at the Clark Bridge over the Mississippi (northbound is still open).

Roads still closed due to the major flooding within the area: Old Alton–Edwardsville Road in Edwardsville; Chain of Rocks Road between IL 111 and IL 157; Brussels Ferry; IL 3 truck bypass in Chester; US 50 at Silver Creek between O’Fallon and Lebanon in St. Clair County; US 67 southbound in West Alton; Chain of Rocks Road between IL 157 and IL 111 in Madison County; Kaskaskia Street in Chester; and IL 143 west of IL 255 in the Wood River-Edwardsville Area.

Several levee districts within District 8 have installed flood control gates. These efforts have closed IL 3 near Cora; IL 3 in East Alton, IL 155 west of Ruma; and Water Street in Dupo.

Within the next 36 hours, the river forecast indicates additional closures may be required at U.S. 67 near Broadway in Alton.

IDOT will continue monitoring State roadways in the affected areas of Illinois. Flooding has or will require closure of state highways and ferries along the Illinois and Mississippi rivers as well as several creeks and streams. Over the next several days, IDOT will provide updates, as warranted, when developments occur.

Traffic-control devices and directional signage, including dynamic message boards, have been deployed to guide motorists safely around major closures. Travelers are advised to consider alternate routes or allow additional time to travel known flood prone areas. Regardless, all motorists are urged to be patient, reduce speed and exercise added caution throughout the Metro East region — as traffic patterns and travel times will likely be affected.

Since this is a very dynamic situation, please see IDOT’s website for the latest information on roadway closures throughout Illinois. Detailed information on the metro-east is also available.  For IDOT District 8 updates on Twitter, please follow

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UPDATE 1 p.m.: Thirteen flood-related deaths have now been confirmed in Missouri.

Gov. Jay Nixon announced the new total during a visit Tuesday to Perry County, where a record crest along the Mississippi River is predicted.

Nixon did not give details about the latest confirmed fatalities, but said nearly all of those who died in Missouri were in vehicles that drove onto flooded roadways.

He urged motorists to stay away from roads with even low levels of water because fast-moving current can push cars and trucks off the roadway.

Previously, 10 deaths from flooding had been reported.

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UPDATE 12:55 p.m.: Photos of flooding in East St. Louis area, via Camp Jackson Fire Department:


Businesses and houses along Camp Jackson Rd. Thinking of our homeowners and friends at our businesses in our district!

Posted by Camp Jackson Fire Department on Tuesday, December 29, 2015

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UPDATE 12:35 p.m.: St. Clair County has activated Emergency Operations Center:


St Clair County Emergency Operations Center has been activated on a limited basis to field calls related to the ongoing flooding. The Emergency Operations Center can be reached at 618-825-2682.

Posted by St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency on Tuesday, December 29, 2015

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UPDATE 12:15 p.m.: St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern has declared a disaster.

In the disaster declaration, Kern wrote that the county has experienced “substantial flooding,” and “resources used to battle flooding are being depleted rapidly.”

He also stated: “Predicted river crests will cause additional resources and emergency responses to be necessary and additional pro-active measures will need to be sustained for extended periods.”

Kern said St. Clair County has distributed full sandbags throughout the county, as well as provided sandbags to Madison and Monroe counties. He added St. Clair has requested an additional 50,000 sandbags from the state.

Kern said the rise in water levels leads to concerns of sand boils around levees.

“That’s why we’re stockpiling additional sandbags,” Kern said.


Upon the reccomendation of Emergency Management Director Herb Simmons, St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern has...

Posted by St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency on Tuesday, December 29, 2015

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UPDATE 11:55 a.m.: A wastewater treatment plant has stopped operating near St. Louis, causing sewage to go directly into nearby rivers and streams.

The Metropolitan Sewer District of St. Louis said Tuesday that recent heavy rainfall and the flooding on the Meramec River are the apparent cause of problems at the wastewater treatment plant in Fenton, Mo. The plant stopped operating Monday night.

Utility officials said the plant is designed for 6.75 million gallons per day of flow, but was treating nearly 24 million gallons per day at the time of the malfunction.

The public is urged to avoid contact with floodwater or sewage in low-lying flooded areas near the plant. It isn't clear when the plant would start operating again.

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UPDATE 11:30 a.m.: Water has come over the levee protecting the town of West Alton, Mo.

The mayor on Tuesday ordered anyone who has not yet evacuated to get out.

About 520 people live in West Alton, a Mississippi River town about 20 miles north of St. Louis. Mayor William Richter urged evacuations over the weekend after it became clear the river would rise so high that the levee couldn't hold back the water.

West Alton is near the convergence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers.

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UPDATE 10:45 a.m.: Section of Triple Lakes Road near Illinois 157 closed for installation of flood gates:


Triple Lakes Road near State Route 157 is now closed as the process to install the floodgates has begun

Posted by St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency on Tuesday, December 29, 2015

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UPDATE 10:25 a.m.: Jefferson Road, between Brickyard Road and Silver Creek about four miles south of Mascoutah in rural St. Clair County, is impassable.

Floodwaters from the creek surround at least two farmhouses and stretch over nearby fields to form a huge lake. This area is prone to flooding but this week it’s much worse than normal.

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UPDATE 10:15 a.m.: Authorities say a stretch of Interstate 44 in central Missouri is completely closed because of flooding.

The Missouri State Department of Transportation announced Tuesday morning that the closure is affecting eastbound and westbound lanes just west of Rolla in Phelps County. Transportation officials say drivers using detour routes should expect delays and longer travel times.

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UPDATE 10 a.m.: The Coast Guard has closed a portion of the Upper Mississippi River to all vessel traffic from mile markers 184 to 179, due to hazardous condition on the river near St. Louis.

Capt. Martin Malloy, Upper Mississippi River Captain of the Port, closed the portion of the river near MacArthur Bridge, which spans the river at St. Louis and East St. Louis, due to extremely high water levels and fast currents caused by a sudden increase in severe weather around the central United States.

Malloy, as Captain of the Port, determines when to issue a river closure by following a Waterways Action Plan, which provides the marine industry, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, state and local governments with a plan for facilitating the safe and orderly movement of traffic during extreme conditions on the inland rivers.

Coast Guard Cmdr. Ryan Rhodes, deputy commander, Upper Mississippi River Sector, said: “Our foremost concerns are safety of life and navigation, protection of infrastructure and property, and to prevent marine casualties.”

Restrictions to operations will be lifted as soon as conditions improve.

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UPDATE 10 a.m.: Video shot by Aerial Eye Photography shows flooding that led to closure of Interstate 70 near Pocahontas:

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UPDATE 9:20 a.m.: State prison officials are concerned that rising water from the Mississippi River could affect the water system at Menard Correctional Center.

If the water service is interrupted, hundreds of portable toilets would need to be brought in for the roughly 3,700 inmates and the guards. In addition, some inmates might need to be moved to different areas of the prison.

The maximum security prison is on lockdown, and visits have been suspended.

Department of Corrections spokeswoman Nicole Wilson said IDOC is preparing for flooding at Menard.

“Staff and emergency work crews are working around the clock, monitoring the situation and filling sandbags, in an effort to minimize any potential impact to the facility,” Wilson said. “In the event that the facility is impacted, IDOC senior staff will make operational decisions that protect the safety of staff, the offender population, and the surrounding communities.”

Kaskaskia Street in front of the prison remained closed Tuesday due to flooding.

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UPDATE 6:15 a.m.: A huge boulder in Calhoun County broke loose from wet ground and rolled into a house:


Sheriff's Office investigates weather related damages.......and finds some very lucky people.

Posted by Calhoun County Sheriff's Office on Monday, December 28, 2015

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UPDATE 5:20 a.m.: Wood River Drainage and Levee District is seeking to ease the fears of residents who’ve seen posts on social media about a “slide of soil” on a levee in the Hartford area.

The levee district posted the following on its Facebook page:

“It has been brought to our attention that we have worried residents in Hartford. Please note what you are seeing on social media is not a ‘break’ or ‘breech’ in the levee. This is simply a slide of soil. It is closely monitored. There is no action needed at this time. For any reason if action would be needed, you would be contacted by local officials, emergency management or the levee district.”

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UPDATE 5:10 a.m.: Wood River street closures:


Due to flooding the following areas will be closed to all NON LOCAL traffic. 6th Street (North and South) between Park...

Posted by Wood River Police Department on Monday, December 28, 2015

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UPDATE 5:05 a.m.: Randolph County road closures:


Road ClosuresRoad District 1 – Road Closings: Stringtown Rd Baldwin, Houston Rd Sparta, Pearidge Rd Baldwin, Lessely...

Posted by Randolph County Sheriff's Office on Monday, December 28, 2015

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Numerous roads remained closed Tuesday morning in the metro-east region due to flooding.

Here’s the latest from Illinois Department of Transportation:

  • IL 143 closed between I-255 & IL-111 in Madison County due to flooding
  • IL 100 is closed between US-67 and IL-16 due to flooding
  • Marine Road from Lake Road to Hunter School Road closed due to flooding.
  • US-40 closed between Triad Road and Schaeffer Road. Follow marked detour.
  • Old Alton Edwardsville Road closed between Bender Road and IL-143.
  • IL-159 NB & SB just North of IL-143, North of Edwardsville is closed due to flooding.
  • Chain of Rocks Rd between IL-157 & IL-111 in Madison Co. is closed due to flooding.
  • Brussels Ferry is closed due to flooding of Rt-100. (Brussels-Calhoun Co.)
  • East Chain of Rocks Rd. at Sand Rd. is closed due to flooding.
  • 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. (Lebanon - St. Clair Co.)
  • I-70 EB/WB from mm36-mm46 closed due to flooding.
  • SB I-255 at State Street closed due to flooding.
  • SB US-67 from Clark Bridge to IL-143 closed due to flooding.
  • Kaskaskia Street in front of the Menard Prison closed due to flooding.
  • IL-155 is closed at Prairie Du Rocher due to flooding.
  • IL-100 at RT-96 junction closed due to flooding. (Calhoun Co.)
  • IL-161 from Charles Ln (Mascoutah Gate) to 6th St. closed due to flooding. (St. Clair Co.)
  • IL-3 is closed from County Highway 2 to the Cove Levy Gate due to flooding.

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