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Region prepares for potential flooding as river levels expect to crest next week

Metro-east agencies prepare for potential flooding

Agencies in the metro-east of Illinois are preparing for possible flooding in Madison and St. Clair counties as river levels for the Mississippi and Missouri rivers are expected to crest.
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Agencies in the metro-east of Illinois are preparing for possible flooding in Madison and St. Clair counties as river levels for the Mississippi and Missouri rivers are expected to crest.

The St. Louis region can expect minor to moderate flooding on the Mississippi River from Alton to Chester as snow and ice from the northern United States melts and heads downstream, experts said.

River levels will begin to crest — or reach their highest stage — on Tuesday of next week, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office in St. Louis. By the time and Missouri, Illinois and Mississippi rivers converge north of St. Louis, the water levels will only be at “minor flooding stages.”

“Right now we’re not worried about major flooding, but we’re monitoring that just in case it changes,” said Scott Ross, the agency’s chief of public affairs. “We are blessed in this region to not be expecting worse.”

The National Weather Service has predicted he river level on the Mississippi will reach 34.4 feet on Tuesday. Moderate flooding occurs at 35 feet, the agency said.

Elsewhere around the region, the weather service issued flood warnings for some parts of the St. Louis area. The Meramec River is forecast to rise above flood stage by late Friday and crest near 40.0 feet by next Wednesday morning. The Missouri River at St. Charles is forecast to rise above flood stage by early Monday morning and continue to rise to near 31.1 feet by Thursday morning.

Major flooding in Iowa has caused some road closures, but the water levels here will not be that bad, authorities said. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds says recent flooding in the state has caused an estimated $1.6 billion in damage. There also is major flooding along the Missouri River in South Dakota, Nebraska and northern Missouri.

Mike Halpert of the Climate Prediction Center explains what's behind NOAA's temperature, precipitation and flood outlooks for spring 2019.

Since last week, the St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency has been meeting with local levee districts, Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the National Weather Service, as well as the Corps of Engineers, to discuss how to best prepare for the incoming potential flooding.

“It’s a little bit under the moderate flood stage, and we don’t have any real immediate danger right now,” St. Clair County EMA Director Herb Simmons said.

Simmons said that St. Clair County highway crews and inmates from the St. Clair County Jail have been helping the EMA fill and set up sandbags around the county. So far, they’ve placed over 3,600 sandbags in areas that have been prone to isolated flooding in the past and areas where a solid infrastructure is vital, like hospitals, nursing homes and roadways.

“It’s been a lot of teamwork,” he said. “We need to be proactive.”

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The Mississippi River is supposed to reach minor to moderate flood levels next week. St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency

Simmons said the agency will continue to fill sand bags and be prepared in case Mother Nature takes a turn for the worse. There is no significant rainfall in the immediate forecast in the region.

There has been some minor flooding in the usual spots. The EMA has already closed down Davis Street Ferry Road in East Carondelet, which is already covered from the rising river. The Mississippi and Missouri rivers have spilled over their banks into adjoining fields, and water high water is creeping up to the bottom of some of the bridges.

Officials in Grafton said in a news release that if their oft-traveled West Main Street comes under a few inches of water, they will create a well-marked route around the water to get from the east end of town to the west end without any difficulty.

Ross said that there is no plan to activate any flood fighting at the moment, as the river levels won’t be high enough.

In Cairo, Gale, Miller City, Gulfport and Barstow, there has been minor flooding since earlier this week. Parts of Northern Illinois have been evacuated since the river reached “major flooding stages.”

Hana Muslic has been covering breaking news and crime for the Belleville News-Democrat since August 2018. She is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Journalism and her previous work can be found in The Lincoln Journal-Star and The Kansas City Star.


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