Only minor flooding issues in Monroe County as river crests

Local levees continue to hold strong throughout Monroe County and south into Prairie du Rocher as the Mississippi River has crested following a surge due to the staggering amount of rainfall received over the Christmas weekend.

The Mississippi River crested Thursday evening at 42.58 feet at the St. Louis gage and had already fallen to 40.59 feet in St. Louis early Saturday afternoon and 42.44 feet at KK Road in rural Monroe County. The river should dip below 40 feet — which is considered major flood stage — by Sunday evening into Monday morning.

Levee personnel continue to work with the Corps of Engineers on handling some sand boils which have popped up on the bluff sides of the levee, including areas in old Harrisonville, near KK Road on down to Prairie du Rocher. Area firefighters, local citizens and Boy Scouts teamed up Saturday to fill thousands of sandbags. At this time there is no need for additional volunteers. 

The formation of sand boils is a common occurrence when the water is high up on the levee.

These river levels are below the tops of the levees throughout the county, including the Fort de Chartres levee, which stretches to Prairie du Rocher. Based on the river projections, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers feels confident in the local levee system’s integrity during this high-water situation, the Monroe County EMA said.

With the river rising this week, the levees did show some expected signs of handling the stress that comes with holding back the additional volume of water. Corps personnel and levee district commissioners worked in tandem to address some bluffside seepage boils, slides and other soft spots that were handled based on the severity of each situation.

Friday morning, levee commissioners tended to new sand boils, including one such situation in rural Harrisonville. Levee district personnel and local fire departments worked into Friday evening on the rural Harrisonville sand boils. A crew from the Maeystown Fire Department and Monroe County EMA used sandbags to form rings around these boils to control the flow of water. Firefighters from Columbia, Waterloo and Valmeyer assisted in filling additional sandbags.

Pictured are flood waters outside of Fort de Chartres near Prairie du Rocher. (submitted photo)

Pictured are flood waters outside of Fort de Chartres near Prairie du Rocher. (submitted photo)

Still, drivers are urged to drive cautiously through all low-lying and flood-prone areas and do not attempt to drive through water over the roadway.

“The Monroe County Sheriff’s Department has increased patrols in the flooded areas and on the levee in the bottoms due to the rising water. We advise everyone to stay off the levees, levee roads and flooded areas,” Monroe County Sheriff Neal Rohlfing stated in a Facebook post.

To read our earlier story on area flooding, which includes local road closures, click here.

In response to a local TV news report Wednesday of a levee breach in Prairie du Rocher, the Prairie du Rocher Chamber of Commerce disputed the report and said the setting up of a portable Ameren substation there was being done strictly as a precaution.

The crest for the Chester gage was 46 feet on Saturday morning — a few feet lower than initially feared and below the tops of the levees protecting communities in Randolph County. The river was expected to be at 44.7 feet there by Sunday morning.

Fort de Chartres, Fort Kaskaskia and the Pierre Menard Home, three historic sites in Randolph County, remain closed due to high water on nearby roads.

St. Clair County EMA observed flooding along the Kaskaskia River to the east of Monroe County.

“The Kaskaskia is predicted to rise another two feet with a crest predicted Saturday afternoon,” the St. Clair County EMA posted on its Facebook page. “There are several private residences in danger of flooding in the southeast parts of St. Clair County near the Kaskaskia River and thousands of sandbags have been delivered to citizens working to protect those properties. The county emergency operations center remains open on a limited basis to field calls related to the flooding and can be reached at 618-825-2682.”

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner toured flood-damaged areas and met with local officials on Friday, including stops in Prairie du Rocher, Evansville and Chester.

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Corey Saathoff

Corey is the editor of the Republic-Times. He has worked at the newspaper since 2004, and currently resides in Columbia. He is also the principal singer-songwriter and plays guitar in St. Louis area country-rock band The Trophy Mules.
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