County board updates flooding plans

Pictured, Assistant Monroe County Emergency Management Agency Director Kevin Scheibe speaks with Monroe County Commissioners at Thursday’s meeting. (Alan Dooley photo)

The Monroe County Board of Commissioners met Thursday morning in an emergency session to update responses to ongoing flooding in the in the Bottoms.

At the meeting, the commissioners signed a Proclamation of Disaster and Emergency Flood Limitation Plan, which are both needed for any contingency that may arise.

According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the river is expected to crest at 45.9 feet on Saturday.

The proclamation will take effect June 11 and run until June 18, unless it is extended again. It can be extended in seven-day increments as necessary.

It is under the authority of the Illinois Emergency Agency Act, and dovetails with an identical one signed June 3.  It will continue to help defray costs of work and materials being employed to fight major flooding along the Mississippi and Kaskaskia Rivers. 

The commissioners also approved what is termed the Monroe County, IL 2019 Emergency Flood Limitation Plan. 

Assistant Monroe County Emergency Management Agency Director Kevin Scheibe described the plan as strictly a contingency plan that would be required only if there has been a levee failure that threatens progressive flooding of levee districts extending southward on the bottoms.

“The levees are doing their jobs.  There is no imminent danger at this time,” Scheibe emphasized. 

“This is not a plan to cut any levee anywhere,” he added.  “It is only a contingency plan we must have in place for any emergency.

If a levee were to fail, as in 1993, and there was no plan in place, flooding could become much more widespread.

Having the plan codifies the procedure needed to make a cut if it becomes necessary. 

“This man-made breach (would) attempt to prevent the Columbia water from flooding Fountain Creek, thus overtopping and breaching the Harrisonville district and resulting in the flooding of numerous acres and homes,” the plan states.

That procedure would be started by the Columbia Levee District, which is where the levee system was breached in the 1993 flood. 

In 1993, the decision to cut the levee system further south was made solely by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  Today, the process has been changed to make it a decision by levee district leaders and Monroe County officials.

Luhr Brothers, Inc., has offered to carry out any cut that could be needed, by having equipment and crews on standby to do the work if it becomes necessary. 

Scheibe also noted that having the Emergency Flood Limitation Plan in place, establishes U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ responsibility pay to restore a levee breach and consequent cut after flooding has subsided.

According to Monroe County Sheriff Neal Rohlfing, there are contingency plans any levee failure for the Fountain Creek South levee and Southern Monroe County levee.

After the commissioners signed the plan, Scheibe summarized the efforts to mitigate the impact of the flood.

“We are working together with our six levee districts, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,โ€ he said. โ€œWe are much better prepared than we were 27 years ago.” 

Citizens are urged to stay connected by following media updates. If residents have questions about their individual situations, they should call the sheriffโ€™s department or Monroe County EMA.

Katie Main, who provides constituent services for 12th District U.S. Congressman Mike Bost, attended the session and was touring the flood area afterward to update him.

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Alan Dooley

Alan is a photojournalist -- he both shoots pictures and writes for the R-T. A 31-year Navy vet, he has lived worldwide, but with his wife Sherry, calls a rambling house south of Waterloo home. Alan counts astronomy as a hobby and is fascinated by just about everything scientific.
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