May 3, 2017

Red Star residents brace for floods; farm fields flooded in Alexander County

Cape Girardeau, MO
USA
by
Mark Bliss
,
Southeast Missourian
Machaela Durham helps sandbag Tuesday in Olive Branch, Illinois. Photo: Laura Simon
Machaela Durham helps sandbag Tuesday in Olive Branch, Illinois. Photo: Laura Simon

Sherry Shelton and her family prepared Tuesday to move out of their North Spanish Street house as Mississippi River floodwaters continued to rise, moving closer and closer to their home.

The 2016 flood left a foot of water in their house, she said.

A little more than a year later, floodwaters could again swamp their home.

After last year’s flooding, Shelton said they spent tens of thousands of dollars renovating the house.

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The National Weather Service forecasts the Mississippi River will crest Saturday night at Cape Girardeau at 48.5 feet, 16.5 feet above flood stage and just shy of the 48.9-foot record level reached in January 2016.

As Shelton and her family were prepared to evacuate late Tuesday morning, the river already stood at 40.9 feet, the Weather Service said. Flood stage is 32 feet.

More rain is forecast for the region today and Thursday. That is bad news for the region, where heavy rains last week saturated the ground, said meteorologist Beverly Poole of the National Weather Service office in Paducah, Kentucky.

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Heather Gomez said she and her husband rented the house in spring 2016. She said their landlord told them the house had two feet of water in the basement during the winter 2016 flood.

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Highway 51 to the Chester bridge east of Perryville, Missouri, will close at noon Thursday because of flooding, according to MoDOT.

Across the river in Alexander County, Illinois, floodwaters continued to pour through a gap in an agricultural levee, flooding farmland.

The Len Small Levee was breached Jan. 1, 2016, amid major flooding.

The high water punched a quarter-mile-wide hole in the levee.

Alexander County Commission chairman Chalen Tatum said Tuesday the levee still has a gap.

The Army Corps of Engineers has not funded repairs, forcing local farmers to repair the levee as best they can.

High water is emptying into Horseshoe Lake and some roads have been washed away, he said.