Mississippi River rising in Grafton and Alton
The Mississippi River, which crested and hit major flooding stages in several parts of the metro-east last week, is expected to rise even more in the next coming days.
With the new expected crest, the river could reach its third-highest crest in some at-risk riverfront cities.
In Grafton, the level was at 31.1 feet on Sunday, but could reach 32.5 feet by Friday, according to the National Weather Service forecast. Mayor Rick Eberlin told the BND on Wednesday that the river was “teasing” the residents there.
“Just when things are looking up, it comes back again,” he said.
Though the tourist town had reopened most of its businesses when the river receded to 28.9 feet on May 16, the most recent rise forced them to close again.
Eberlin said the town is working with county, state and federal officials to figure out plans for tax relief and recovery efforts.
The Illinois Department of Transportation closed part of Illinois 100 from U.S. 67 to Illinois 16 due to flooding. On Sunday, the agency announced it would close even more lanes of southbound U.S. 67 in Alton, where the river was at 34.86 feet.
There, the river is expected to reach 36 feet by Friday. Bob Barnhart, the Alton Public Works director, said last week that the city constructed a wall that was up to 8 feet tall and 400 feet long when the first new rise hit. The town is watching flood projections constantly, but this year’s major flooding and rainy weather has prevented the city from working on necessary projects.
“Resources and conditions haven’t been helpful to getting things done efficiently, but we’re doing our best,” he said.
Many parts of the river have been closed for travel because barges can’t get under some of the bridges with such high water levels. For Kenneth Hartman Jr., who grows corn, soybeans and wheat near Waterloo, that means holding on to a lot of last year’s crops with little storage space.
“You have elevators that aren’t even taking grain right now,” he told the Associated Press. “So that’s causing issues as far as selling our grain in a timely manner.”
According to the AP, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers doesn’t expect the river to recede to manageable levels until possibly June. It’s mostly navigable up until it meets the Mississippi River near St. Louis. The NWS forecast predicted that the river will rise at that spot to 43 feet on Friday.