News

Mississippi River continues to swell; crest expected Wednesday

Canton, Mo., residents Amy Bringer and her sons Blake and Noah stand at the foot of Henderson Street to view floodwaters. The submerged stop sign is at the corner of Henderson and Front streets. (H-W Photo/Michael Kipley)
Posted: Jul. 8, 2014 9:58 am Updated: Jul. 22, 2014 10:15 am

By MATT HOPF
Herald-Whig Staff Writer

LAGRANGE, Mo. -- Pete and Annie Massey watched the Appreciation Day parade on Friday from their home on the west side of Main Street that faces the Mississippi River.

By Sunday, the floodwater had risen to their driveway.

"We had about 2 1/2 feet come up the driveway (Sunday)," Pete Massey said. "That was really scary."

The retired couple sat outside their garage Monday afternoon as floodwater blocked the entrance to their driveway. They have lived on Main Street for 11 years, and volunteers sandbagged around their house during the flood of 2008.

The Masseys shouldn't see any sandbags this year unless predictions change for the worse.

Flooding along the Mississippi River has resulted in many road closings and the shutdown of the Champ Clark Bridge in Louisiana, Mo., and the Quincy Memorial Bridge. The river is expected to reach its peak in most communities Wednesday and gradually recede.

The National Weather Service in St. Louis predicts the river will crest on Wednesday at 26.8 feet in Quincy and 26.6 feet in Hannibal, then drop a foot and a half by Saturday. At Lock and Dam 20 in Canton, Mo., the floodwater is expected to crest 23.4 feet Tuesday and drop two feet by Saturday.

"Somewhere between 10 o'clock and noon (Wednesday), we should crest," said John Hark, director of the Hannibal-Marion County Emergency Management Agency.

Rainfall from Monday night and Tuesday morning might change those predictions, but only slightly. Overnight, Quincy Regional Airport received 1.31 inches of rain and Hannibal Regional Airport received 2.36 inches of rain, according to the weather service.

"Any water that falls is not really going to run out," Hark said.

Jeff Conte, director of utilities and engineering for the city of Quincy, said workers at the water treatment plant have placed sandbags around the top of the intake well. Seepage along the floodwall also is being monitored.

It isn't unusual for LaGrange to deal with floodwater because no levees protect Main Street.

The U.S. Postal Service has moved temporarily into the Council Room in City Hall on Main Street. Down the street, sandbags line the front entrance to the post office building. Clerk Danelle Sutterfield said operations, including the post office boxes, were moved Saturday. A steady stream of customers picked up mail at City Hall on Monday.

"I don't have a computer, and I don't have a phone," she said. "It's pretty hectic. It's kind of hard to find everything. I've been working all day to get it organized."

Across from City Hall, the lobby of Town and Country Bank is open for extended hours, though floodwater reached the back of the building and the drive-up window is closed. Bank officials monitored river levels throughout the holiday weekend, and procedures are in place to pack up the building if needed.

"At 26 feet, it's going to be coming in the back door," said Teresa Turgeon, assistant vice president for Town and Country Bank. "The crest predictions were 23 (feet), so we know, unless something drastic changes, it's not going to affect us too much."

Floodgates are installed in Canton and the levee is holding the floodwater at bay, though roads not protected were underwater.

Tanner Schutte of Canton visited the Canton Levee Walk on Monday to get a look at the river. He helped with sandbagging during the 2008 flood, and he said he believes the area will be spared higher levels this time.

"If it's closing bridges and everything, I would say that's enough to concern me, but as far as it getting to 2008 or 1993 (levels), I would be surprised," he said.

It's hard for Pete Massey to explain to explain the flooding to family members in southern California.

"I can't describe to them what it is (like) to sit and watch a river come up and know that you are helpless," he said. "This river is going to do whatever it wants to do, no matter what kind of plans we make."

-- mhopf@whig.com/221-3391