River crests, but flood threat remains

The U.S. Coast Guard closed the Mississippi River near St. Louis to boat and barge traffic Friday as excessive rains throughout the region and heavy snow melt up north swelled the key shipping waterway to major flood stage.

The river rose to 40.6 feet in St. Louis on Saturday before cresting at 41.5 feet Monday afternoon and starting a slight decline.

Monday’s crest fell more than eight feet short of the infamous 1993 record of 49.58 feet.

Despite the slight reprieve, more rain predicted  for this week could result in another river crest in the coming days.

“We’re forecasting a lot of rain through Thursday,” the National Weather Service St. Louis District stated on Monday. “It’s likely that we’ll see secondary crests.”

Governor JB Pritzker on Friday issued a state disaster proclamation for 34 counties along the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, including Monroe, St. Clair and Randolph. The declaration ensures state support to communities battling floods caused by weeks of elevated river levels and recent heavy rains.

In Monroe County, Bluff Road was officially closed between HH Road and Hanover Road on Friday evening due to high water.

Volunteers filled sand bags at Rock City in Valmeyer on Monday in preparation for levee issues.

Further south, the flood gates remain closed at Route 155 in Prairie du Rocher.

“Water generally crosses the road on (Route 155 at approximately 39 feet),” the Prairie du Rocher Chamber of Commerce posted on Facebook. “This is why the gates have stayed closed – it was just a matter of time. The good news is that the crest is predicted to recede fairly quickly, so hopefully it won’t be much longer until things can return to normal.”

In St. Clair County, the Prairie Du Pont Levee District, in conjunction with FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, installed floodgates on Stolle Road/Triple Lakes Road going to Route 157 at the levee on Saturday.

This was done to complete 100-year certification on the levee system as required by FEMA.

Road closures in the New Athens area due to Kaskaskia River flooding include Black Quarter Road, Werner Road between Route 13 and Old Sand Road, Risdon School Road west of the gates for Baldwin Lake and Plum Creek Bridge.

Conserve water order

Due to the impact of flooding on Illinois American Water’s metro-east operations, local customers are being directed to conserve water use.

Illinois American Water said its customers should restrict all non-essential water use until further notice and refrain from non-critical water use such as running sprinklers, dishwashers and washing machines at this time. Customers are also asked to avoid filling bathtubs if at all possible and use showers instead.

According to Karen Cooper, senior manager of field operations and production for Illinois American Water’s Southern Division, a levee broke south of Illinois American Water’s Chouteau Island intake facility near Granite City, causing damage to infrastructure.

“Our team reacted quickly and is working to complete critical repairs,” she said.

Communities impacted include those served directly by Illinois American Water, such as Cahokia, St. Clair Township and Smithton Township, as well as sale-for-resale (wholesale) communities including Millstadt, Columbia and Waterloo.

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