Counties, families monitor rising river and potential flooding

The rain has let up, but the rivers continue to rise across the Local 6 viewing area. People living in Alexander County, Illinois, are already making decisions ahead of flooding risks.

In 2011, the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers breached, or broke through the levees, flooding several towns. People living in those areas say they’d hate to see this repeated.

County engineers say they’re monitoring the potential for flooding. Their first concern is whether the levees will hold. Engineers in Alexander County say the water at the Len Small Levee is almost reaching the top. They say they’re doing all they can to monitor the levee’s weak spots, and warn people about the rising river.

Kayde Wood remembers how much her family lost four years ago in the 2011 flood. Her grandparents’ home had 4 feet of water inside. Wood’s home next door was condemned after that flood. She says this time, they’ll continue stacking sandbags for days and hope their newly-built wall holds.

“The water isn’t up yet, but we can’t wait till the last minute to come," Wood says. 

The rising river in her grandparents’ backyard not only threatens her home,  but everyone in their county.

Even though the rain’s let up, the river is still rising. In six hours this road went from dry to water on the road.

Jeff Denny, the county’s engineer, says, although this is an unusual time for flooding, people in the area are used to living by the river. He says they’re accustomed to dealing with the river, but do have concerns. Denny says all they can do right now is wait and watch.

“If it holds, I think we’ll be alright," Denny says. "But, if the levee doesn’t hold, you’re going to have some pretty significant impact.”

While Kayde will sandbag for days to come, she says it’s not the physical pain that will weigh most on her; it’s the emotional pain.

“My family, you know, this is everything they ever worked for, and it’ll be a shame if it comes down again,” Kayde says.

Denny told me the Len Small Levee is 47.5 feet tall. The Mississippi river is supposed to crest, or be at its highest level at 9.5 feet above flood stage at Thebes and 19 feet above flood stage at Cairo. Some emergency agencies are monitoring the area as well. The Illinois Emergency Management Agency was checking the levee and the river. IEMA’s already helped to deliver sand, and if the area needs any assistance, they’ll have that documentation.

Denny estimates that, if the levees are breached, it could affect 600 to 800 people. 

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