Leaders in flood-prone city working to protect against rising water levels

The rain may be letting up,  but local cities will face the aftermath for days as our rivers rise. Brookport, Illinois, city leaders started planning for flooding days ago. Right now one of the city’s largest flood fighting tools — the flapgate — is broken.

The flapgate has been broken for years, but if it was working the city’s flapgate would help keep water out when properly closed. During every big rain event, the city throws sandbags in front of the flapgate. This time,  they put several 4,000 pound sandbags in place to keep the gate closed. It’s not their only way to combat rising water,  but city leaders tell me they believe this time they’re prepared.

Brookport Alderman Tom Souders and his limited staff have worked for days to keep river water out of the city. He says they’re doing their best to stay on top of it. Souders says they already sandbagged to block the river, and now they’re pumping the rain water that’s collected in the city.

"We’re pumping. We’ll just pump 24/7 until we get it all pumped out,” Souders says.

They’re even working to pump water from within the city, because some of the storm drains aren’t draining as they should.

Ruth Hicks says she sees all the hard work around her city and neighborhood. She says she knows they can only do so much in the face of nature, but at the same time she sees the river rising right outside her door.

“I try to stay calm and brave for them because none of us know what could really happen til it happens," Hicks says.

Souders says he’s confident that this time  the city will stay above water, in part because he checked with Illinois Emergency Management and the Army Corps of Engineers to see if there are any more precautions to take. He says those agencies told him with the pumps, they’re doing all they can do.

Souders says they are getting sandbags donated that people can use to protect their homes if they wish, but the city could use volunteers with that effort, or people can get sandbags themselves.

Brookport rented one of the pumps; the state sent two. As for the flapgate, funding issues keep it from being repaired.

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