Efforts Continue to Hold Back High Water in the Region

May 3, 2017

With more rain expected in the region, volunteers in are filling hundreds of sandbags to save some areas that are inching closer and closer to high water.

Volunteers are bagging the sand at the former Curwood Plant on North 19th Street in Murphysboro.

State Representative Terri Bryant stopped by to help on Wednesday. She's been visiting flooded areas, including Grand Tower.
 
"There's still some pretty nasty slides on the Big Muddy that they haven't fixed from the last - since the last flood."
 
Murphysboro Police Officer Ron Milton is among those helping fill sandbags.
 
"I figured if I don't help load, and help sand, and everything it - ya know, I enjoy doing it."
 
The Vergennes Fire Department is picking up some of the sand to help areas where the Beaucoup Creek is drastically rising.

Milton says a lot of the sand is going to 2nd and 3rd Streets in Murphysboro where he says houses are about to go under.

Officer Milton says when he finishes filling sandbags, he grabs his tow truck to help pull vehicles out of the water.

Access to the Big Muddy and Mississippi River levees is now restricted to levee commission members.

Sandbagging efforts have concluded in the Desoto area.

The Franklin County Emergency Management Agency and the City of West Frankfort have opened a Disaster Resource Center.

It's located in the lobby of the West Frankfort Public Safety Building. It is open to ALL Franklin County residents who have been affected by flooding.

Local agencies and non-governmental organizations will be on hand to provide information, distribute recovery resources and collect damage assessment reports. Flood clean up kits and other resources from the American Red Cross are also available.

The Mississippi River near St. Louis has been closed to boats and barges because of high water levels.

The Coast Guard announced in a news release that it closed the river to vessel traffic for a 5.5-mile stretch near the MacArthur Bridge. The release says the river operation restrictions will be re-evaluated as river conditions improve.

The flooding has claimed five lives in the state and caused widespread damage. Missouri transportation officials say more than 270 roads remain closed statewide. Homes, business, campgrounds, wastewater treatment facilities and cropland have been inundated. Agricultural levees have overtopped and stretches of railroad tracks closed.

A drop in funding means about 20 percent of gauges used in Missouri to measure floodwaters will go offline this summer.

The U.S. Geological Survey's Water Science Center in Rolla maintains 247 gauges across the state. The Springfield News-Leader reports 49 of those instruments are scheduled to be deactivated after June 30.

The instruments collect water data used by agencies such as the National Weather Service and the Army Corps of Engineers.

The gauges are funded by several entities and funding varies depending on the priorities of groups that partner with the Geological Survey.

Amy Beussink, director of the water science center, says some of the agency's partners are facing budget reductions but she wouldn't say which agencies were not able or willing to fund the gauges.