Eyes are back on Mississippi River as it rises again

Posted: Jun. 26, 2013 5:38 pm Updated: Jul. 17, 2013 6:15 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

John Simon calls is "the new normal,"

Simon, director of the Adams County Emergency Management Agency, is starting to get used to watching the Mississippi River rise above flood stage and then fall only to see the waters rise again.

"When it came up in April, it finally came down below flood stage around Memorial Day weekend," Simon said. "It was less than 70 hours under flood stage before it went right back up. I haven't counted how long we were out of flood stage this time before the water went up again. This is just more of the status quo."

Flood stage at the Quincy filter plant is 17 feet. The water is expected to creep past that mark on Thursday morning and continue to rise throughout next week with the river expected to crest in the 24-foot range on July 4, Simon said.

Thanks to rains up north, the Mississippi is expected to significantly swell out of its banks for the third time this year. Parts of North Dakota got up to 8 inches of rain Tuesday night through Wednesday morning, parts of Iowa got 7 inches of rain, and other states from Wisconsin to Missouri were soaked as well.

Runoff from those storms means another round of river watching for Simon and levee operators up and down the Mississippi River.

While a crest of around 24 feet is projected next week, that could all change with one storm, Simon said.

"We're only one major rainstorm from a major flood event," Simon said.

The river's latest rise could rank it among the top 10 all-time crests. According to the National Weather Service, the river reached 27.75 feet on April 21 in Quincy, the fourth-highest crest on record. The river receded and bounced back up on June 1 to reach a crest of 25.16 feet, the seventh-highest recorded crest. If the river reaches anything over 23.8 feet, it will be one of the top-10 crests ever. Any reading over 22.5 feet is considered major flood stage.

Simon expects parts of Quincy's "bottom road" to close and parks along Quincy's riverfront will once again flood, things that have happened during the earlier floods.

"At 24 feet, it's not a worrisome state," Simon said. "It's a state when we watch to see what its going to do. We're more watching what the weather is going to do. Now if we start looking at a 28-foot crest, we'll start putting some coordinated efforts into place. If it goes to 28, 29, 30 feet, things will really have to kick into high gear."

Down river in Hannibal, Mo., plans are being made to battle the rising river. John Hark, Marion County emergency management director, earlier this week announced that Hannibal would reinstall all five of its floodgates on Friday. It's the third time this year the floodgates have been put in place.