Cape Girardeau prepares for record-breaking river levels

Record breaking river levels are expected at the Mississippi River in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. As of Wednesday afternoon, the water was 13.5 feet above flood stage.

The river is rising about 2 feet every 12 hours. Flood stage is 32 feet, and the water levels are at 45.5 feet.

City of Cape Girardeau Public Works Director Stan Polivick says right now they’re in a watch and maintain stage as they wait for the river to crest Friday.

The flood wall is protecting homes and businesses in Cape Girardeau, but water is seeping over into homes and roads in the county.

River’s Edge Automotive owner Lester Chapman says he’s put up more than 1200 sandbags to try and protect their business.

"Yesterday there was no water up against the building at all,” Chapman said.

He bought the business eight months ago, and Wednesday its parking lot was covered in water.

"It’ll be a rough first year." Chapman said.

His family has traveled from as far as Louisiana to help him.

“It’s going to be stressful. It’s going to be hard probably looking at two to three weeks without a paycheck," Chapman said.

He says things should be fine as long as it doesn’t crest higher than it’s expected to —49.5 feet.

“The faster it goes down, the happier we are,” Polivick said.

Polivick says river levels could tie or break a 1993 record, but he’s thankful it won’t be as bad.

“The ’93 flood came up and just stayed high for weeks,” Polivick said.

He says it destroyed homes that were in this area, bought out by FEMA after the flood.

“Water can be a relentless enemy. The longer it sits there the more time it has to find a way to cause a problem,” Polivick said.

If the floodwall wasn’t there, business in downtown would be saturated with water.

This time he says the water should crest for about 48 hours and then start dropping. Polivick also credits a new control system at the floodwall and refurbished pumps for keeping everything going smoothly. He says those pumps are helping take any rain or water the city out of here and into the river while the flood gates are up. Once the river crests, Polivick says the water should drop about 18 feet in ten days.

Sandbags are still available from Public Works, sand/sand bags at Red Star Baptist Church (1301 North Main Street), and sand at the Merriwether Pump Station (Main Street near parking lot/Boardman Pavilion).

All floodwall gates in downtown Cape Girardeau are closed. Public Works crews are inspecting levees and the flood wall four times daily (every six hours), and will continue doing so until next week when water recedes below 46 feet. Inspections are done as a part of normal flood protocol.

Below are the newest road closures/changes from Wednesday:
4th and Water Street pulled back to main street and fourth. Per Andrew
Barricades pushed back to Fountain st
Ramp from Interstate 55 from Route 74 to Blomeyer
Hwy 61 – right lane closed to Route 74
Ramp Interstate 55 southbound to Route 74?

The shelter at the Osage Centre and pet shelter at the 4-H Building in Arena Park remain open with space at this time. Contact the SEMO Red Cross for Osage shelter info by calling 573-335-9471 or the Humane Society of Southeast Missouri or Cape County Public Health Center for pet shelter information by calling 573-334-5837 for the Humane Society and 573-335-7846 for Public Health.

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