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Metro-east water levels expected to start slowly receding, weather service says

Receding floodwater in Alton

The aftermath of flooding in Alton, Illinois, near the Argosy Casino. This spot was underwater just two weeks ago.
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The aftermath of flooding in Alton, Illinois, near the Argosy Casino. This spot was underwater just two weeks ago.

The swollen Mississippi River, which has caused devastation in areas of the metro-east in recent months, could finally drop to minor flooding stages this week, the National Weather Service forecast says.

The river reached near-historic levels this season, with the second-worst flooding this part of the state has seen since the Great Flood of 1993.

In Grafton, where the river crested at 35.17 feet June 7, the level was at 24.3 feet Sunday afternoon, just above the 24-foot mark that indicates minor flooding. This week, the river will slowly recede, inch by inch, and should reach 24 feet by next Sunday.

The town has been working on flood cleanup efforts for weeks and reopened many riverfront businesses over the July 4 weekend, celebrating the receding waters and hoping to bring back the tourists on which it relies for revenue.

The river level there is expected to drop back to 20 feet by July 20, the forecast shows.

In Alton, the waters have been in minor flooding stages since Thursday and reached 27.4 feet Sunday afternoon, a far cry from the 39 feet at which the river crested June 9. The forecast shows that the Mississippi River will come down more quickly in Alton than in Grafton, and could drop by almost 3 feet by next Sunday, when it’s expected to get to 24.8 feet.

Several main roads that have been closed for months have finally reopened, including Illinois 100 in downtown, and the grain bins with the iconic “Welcome to Alton” mural no longer have several feet of water at the bottom.

The river could come down to 20.7 feet in Alton by July 20, according to the forecast.

The water level was finally down from moderate flooding stages to minor flooding stages in St. Louis by Sunday afternoon at 34.74 feet. The Mississippi River crested in the city at 45.93 feet on June 8 and could come down to 27 feet by July 20.

According to the forecast, the river will then be in “action stages,” which occur at 28 feet. It is the only spot in the metro-east that will reach those stages by July 20, the furthest ahead date on the online hydrological prediction graphs.

According to Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office, as part of the state’s flood response, there have been:

  • More than 5 million sandbags deployed.
  • 38,000 tons of rock distributed.
  • 1.2 million tons of sand distributed.
  • More than 3,300 rolls of plastic distributed.
  • More than 1.1 million sandbags filled by the Illinois Department of Corrections.
  • 39 pumps deployed by the Illinois Department of Transportation.
  • 26 pumps deployed by U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.
  • 450 linear feet of heavy duty barriers installed.
  • 1,750 feet of Aquadam deployed.

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

  • Illinois 100 from Illinois 3 to Illinois 16 in Jersey County. Local traffic only. No large trucks.

  • Illinois 3 Truck By-Pass in Chester (Water Street).
  • Illinois 155 outside of Prairie du Rocher.
  • Kaskaskia Street in Chester.
  • Illinois 96 from County Highway 2 to Pike County Line (some roads open to local traffic).

  • Illinois 100 in Jersey County from Illinois 100/16 Junction through Joe Page Bridge intersection.
  • Illinois 100 in Calhoun County from Joe Page Bridge intersection to Pike Cunty Line.
  • Joe Page Bridge.

The Brussels Ferry also opened Sunday after being closed for two months.

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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.