June 17, 2008

Levees Crack but so Far Don’t Break

The battle against flooding shifted to Illinois and Missouri as the Mississippi River threatened to spill over levees and flood towns in its path.

Officials are placing millions of sandbags atop levees along the great river in Illinois, Iowa and Missouri to prevent the rain-swollen waterway from overflowing, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Tuesday.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, predicting floodwater would slop over some levees, said authorities would monitor them for weak spots.

Congressional delegations from Missouri and Illinois have asked the federal government to declare counties along the Mississippi preemptive disaster areas. The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers to provide Illinois with more floodwater-capturing equipment.

The flooding began last week in Iowa, where the Iowa, Cedar and Des Moines spread their watery destruction before receding. Now officials along the Mississippi are watching the waterway as it crests above flood stage in numerous river communities.

A levee at Gulfport, Ill., failed Tuesday along the Mississippi River, threatening to swamp the town and cutting off access to Burlington, Iowa.

Henderson County Deputy Sheriff Donald Seitz said the breach could put the town under as much as 10 feet of water by Wednesday afternoon with the river's crest yet to come, ABC reported.

In and around Hannibal, Mo., road and bridge closings, voluntary evacuations and relocation efforts are taking place as the area prepares for potential flooding, the Hannibal Courier-Post reported.

We're up to our chins and the last one standing wins, said Jeff McReynolds, emergency management director in nearby Canton, calling Tuesday D-Day for Canton.

At Gregory Landing, Mo., drainage district Commissioner Kent Leftwich told the Courier-Post he expected water to cover almost 8,000 acres of farmland by Tuesday afternoon.