Cleanup begins in Cape Girardeau after record breaking flood
Last week was a difficult one for communities along the Mississippi River, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
The river has already crested in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, more than a foot lower than expected. Monday afternoon, it was at 45.5 feet, about 13 feet above flood stage.
The Mississippi has stopped rising and is going down much quicker than predicted, which has the community scrambling to clean up.
"I’m delighted that it’s not as much as it was," says Stan Polivick. "But it’s still overwhelming that the river can just bring this much water into a place as quickly as it did."
Polivick, who is assistant director of Public Works in Cape Girardeau, says this flood set a new record high of 48.86 feet. That’s more than 16 feet above flood stage.
"You can see the result of it," says Polivick. "This gentleman has got to clean up his business before he can go back to work. Some people’s livelihoods, their homes are messed up."
Nearly everything that was under water is now covered in mud. Polivick says they’re also dealing with debris that floated in from the river.
"It’s a very very messy operation to get cleaned up," says Polivick. "So you’re somewhat heartbroken to know what these people are going to have to do for the next couple of weeks to get everything put back in order."
Polivick says cleanup is far from over. As the water continues to go down, there will be even more mud and garbage to pick up. Not to mention the more than 20,000 sandbags scattered throughout town. Many of those are placed along the 800-foot flood wall in downtown.
Polivick says every six hours, crews go out and check the wall to make sure there aren’t any leaks or cracks. He says once the river lowers to 44 feet, they’ll start checking it every 12 hours and will do that until the Mississippi is back to normal.