Weather News

Mississippi River flooding closes a few roads as crest expected next week

Rising water levels due to cresting on the Mississippi River have forced some road closures and business closings in Grafton, but otherwise there have been few problems in the region.

According to the National Weather Service, the river is expected to crest on Monday afternoon near Grafton at 27 feet and Wednesday night near St. Louis at 36.3 feet.

That’s a little more than the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office in St. Louis predicted last week, when they said the region should expect mostly minor flooding. “Minor flooding stages” occur at 30 feet, while “moderate flooding stages” occur at 35 feet.

In a news release, the Illinois Department of Transportation announced it had closed the following roads due to flooding: Illinois 100 from Illinois 3 to Ski Lift Road in Grafton; Kaskaskia Street and Illinois 3 Truck Bypass in Chester, and Illinois 96 from County Highway 2 to Crooked Creek Hollow Road near Mozier. The agency was also shifting northbound lanes on U.S. 67 at the Clark Bridge near West Alton.

IDOT said it will continue monitoring state roadways in the affected areas, noting that flooding may require the closure of more state highways and ferries along the Illinois and Mississippi rivers.

One of those ferries was the Brussels Ferry to Calhoun County, which was closed due to flooding on County Highway 1.

032219Dh riverfront .jpg
The Mississippi River was at 32.71 feet on Friday afternoon. The peak forecast for the St. Louis Riverfront at the Eads Bridge is currently 33.70 feet on Wednesday. At 34 feet, Leonor K. Sullivan Bouelvard, located directly between the Gateway Arch and the Mississippi River, begins flooding near the Eads bridge underpass. On Aug. 1, 1993, the St. Louis riverfront’s historic crest of 49.58 feet was reached. Derik Holtmann

Flooding having only minor impact on Grafton

Businesses and a few home in Grafton have been impacted by the rising water, with the NWS reporting flooding in residential neighborhoods, at some churches and frequently-visited buildings like the Visitors Center and the Illinois Youth Center-Pere Marquette, which was forced to evacuate those staying there.

Despite this, Grafton Mayor Tom Thompson told FOX 2 that 90 percent of businesses in the city were still open and detours have been formed for the flooded streets.

Multiple agencies in the region have been preparing for the rising water levels since last week. Near record flooding occurred earlier this spring in South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa and western Missouri, due to heavy rains and snow melt. Most of that water was being fed into the Missouri River, which empties into the Mississippi River at St. Charles, Missouri.

The Missouri River at St. Charles is expected to crest Monday at 28.9 feet.

The St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency, upon weeks of meeting with local levee districts, the Corps of Engineers, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the National Weather Service, had 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, such as hospitals, nursing homes and primary roadways.

“We need to be proactive,” EMA Director Herb Simmons said last week. “If you’re not proactive, you’re reactive.”

According to the Corps of Engineers, there are no plans to activate any flood fighting, as there have been in other parts of the Midwest that were affected by major flooding.

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Hana Muslic has been a public safety reporter for the Belleville News-Democrat since August 2018, covering everything from crime and courts to accidents, fires and natural disasters. 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.