Weather News

Mississippi River crests over weekend, metro-east agencies continue flood fighting efforts

The Mississippi River at St. Louis reached its second-highest crest ever at 46.02 feet on Saturday night.

The National Weather Service reported that the crest occurred at 9:15 p.m. and fell roughly 3 1/2 feet short of the 1993 historic crest. This is the second crest above major flood stage this year and the sixth time since 2013. Major flooding occurs at 40 feet at St. Louis.

By 10 a.m. Sunday, the river level was slightly down at 45.77 feet, the NWS advanced hydrological prediction service showed. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office in St. Louis predicts it will stay at that level until Wednesday, when it’s expected to drop to 45 feet.

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Department announced a mandatory evacuation for Sunday and implemented a curfew of 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. for the restricted area.

“I encourage all residents to evacuate and put plans in place to do so,” Sheriff Neal Rohlfing wrote on Facebook. “This is a rapidly evolving situation and the crest has changed multiple times over the past several days. With the forecast of additional rainfall this could further complicate the situation.”

The Randolph County Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution Friday that would act to limit flooding in the Prairie du Rocher-Modoc Levee District in the event of a levee failure in Monroe County. In a news release, the board stated that its main concern is the Columbia Bottoms levee system, and that a breach there would potentially flood Fountain Creek and impact the Prairie du Rocher area.

The board’s resolution authorizes emergency management officials to issue an evacuation advisory and “cut” a hole in the Mississippi River levee between Prairie du Rocher and Fort Chartres to allow flood water inside the levee to drain back into the river. According to the release, residents in the Prairie du Rocher-Modoc Levee District would have approximately 36 hours to evacuate in the event of a levee breach.

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin met with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency on Saturday to discuss the crest. During that time, Alicia Tate-Nadeau, the acting director of the IEMA, told Durbin that it would be the longest flood fight in more than 90 years.

The Corps of Engineers believes it will take another four weeks for the water to fall below the flood stage, putting a strain on the saturated dirt walls of the levees.

The St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency announced Saturday night that nine pumps had been placed on Jesse Street in East Carondelet near a railroad at the request of the Prairie Dupont Levee District. The agency’s Facebook post stated that the Corps of Engineers reassured citizens that the situation was stable and that employees are checking the location several times a day. The road was blocked off as levee operators and the National Guard monitored.

The agency also stated it contacted Rohlfing of Monroe County to discuss placing barricades on the levee near Interstate 255 to ensure that people coming from south on the levee will know that the levee is closed. Two National Guard units were also placed at Water Street and Triple Lakes to divert traffic.

The Metro-East Sanitary District’s website stated Sunday that there are no known deficiencies in the Madison and St. Clair County Levee system that the district monitors.

Along the river, Locks and Dam 24, 25, 27, Melvin Price and Jerry Costello continued to stay closed due to the high water levels, the Corps of Engineers’ website stated Sunday.

Rivers that typically feed into the Mississippi remained in major flooding stages on Sunday as well.

The Kaskaskia River reached 92.15 feet at New Athens at 6 a.m., just a little under 3 feet shy of the 1993 record. The river is sourced by Carlyle Lake and the backwater of the Mississippi River at Chester. The St. Clair County EMA stated it was in contact with the Corps of Engineers, which controls the releases of water from Carlyle Lake when it floods, to ensure it will not increase the outflow from the lake into the Kaskaskia at any time in the immediate future.

The Illinois River at Hardin crested at 40.24 feet on Friday at 6 p.m. and was back down to 40.04 feet at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday. On Saturday, the St. Louis Area Foodbank delivered more than 20,000 pounds of food and disaster relief supplies to flood victims in Calhoun County. To reach the distribution point in Hardin, Foodbank employees drove an additional 120 miles and 3-plus hours because the main route out of town is closed due to flooding. According to the Foodbank, approximately 140 families received much-needed food and supplies at the distribution.

The following ferries, bridges and roads remained closed due to flooding, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation:

  • Brussels Ferry near Grafton in Jersey County

  • Kampsville Ferry near Kampsville in Calhoun County

  • Illinois 16 Joe Page Bridge over Illinois River near Hardin in Calhoun County

  • Illinois 100 Joe Page Bridge over Illinois River near Hardin in Calhoun County

  • Illinois 150 closed in Missouri due near Chester in Randolph County

  • Eldred Road IL 16 to IL 108 near Eldred in Greene County

  • Water Street (Truck Bypass) IL 3 to Kaskaskia Street near Chester in Randolph County

  • Kaskaskia Street (Truck Bypass) Cottage Road to Water Street in Chester in Randolph County

  • Illinois 3 Cora Levee to Water Street near Chester in Randolph County

  • Illinois 3 Mimosa Road to Dew Drop Lane near Ellis Grove in Randolph County at Nine Mile Creek

  • Illinois 3 2 miles north Illinois 143 at Levee Gates in East Alton in Madison Count

  • Illinois 3 Grafton Hills Road to Illinois 100 in Grafton in Jersey County

  • Illinois 16 Illinois River to Eldred Road near East Hardin in Greene County

  • U.S. 67 Henry Street to 3rd Street in Alton in Madison County

  • Illinois 96 Jefferson to Illinois 100 in Kampsville in Calhoun County

  • Illinois 96 CH 2 to Crooked Creek Road near Mozier in Calhoun Count

  • Illinois 100 U.S. 67 to Illinois 16 near Alton in Jersey County

  • Illinois 100 Eldred Road to Illinois River near East Hardin in Greene County

  • Illinios 100 Illinois 16 to Pike County Line near Hardin in Calhoun County

  • Illinois 108 Illinois 100 to Eldred in Greene County

  • Illinois 155 Laurent Road to Fish Lake Road near Prairie Du Rocher in Randolph County

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.