Publication Date May 2, 2017

Cities Downstream Brace for Major Flooding

United States
Mississippi River forecast for Alton - Tuesday afternoon. Image: National Weather Service

The Mississippi River is only expected to reach flood stage in the Quad Cities this week, but downstream some areas are bracing for what could be major flooding. And climate change could be a factor.

Tuesday members of the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative held a conference call with reporters to talk about the impact of flooding. Brent Walker, the mayor of Alton, Illinois is convinced climate change is affecting the river, and his city.

"We just don't get normal spring rains anymore. We get huge downpours - last weekend 6-10 inches. The flood of 2015-16 we had 13 inches of rain in less than two days."

Walker says the Mississippi has flooded in Alton five times in the past 4 years, and four of those floods rank among the top ten in the city's history - and Alton is 180 years old.

"So these are incredibly costly and the after effects with the loss of revenue and loss of employment. And then just major repairs in our city alone - it's absolutely devastating especially when you're working with the tight budgets we currently have."

Mayor Walker hopes the worst is over but worries that rain in the forecast for the next couple of days could cause more serious damage, and move another recent flood into Alton's top ten.