Alexander County residents moving back after flood

Tuesday morning’s cold temperatures put a thin layer of ice on floodwaters in some areas. As that cold water drops, families are coming back home for the first time.

Water levels in Olive Branch, Illinois, and surrounding areas are still high, filling people’s homes and turning yards and farmland in to lakes.

The floodwaters have receded enough that some people are now able to go home.

The floods in Alexander County have devastated some, while sparing others. The evacuation order for the county has been lifted, but Brandee Rister says she won’t be going home any time soon.

"No, not yet. Um, no. Even if we had water, it’s not convenient to boat in and out for us," said Rister. She moved to the area a few years back with her boyfriend, and she says she’s never seen anything like these floods.

Just down the road in Unity, John Grayson and his wife are back at their home for the first time since the flood. John says staying in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, out of sight of their home and the nearby floods, they were worried they’d find everything in ruins.

"But then we came back and things were intact. I’m just excited to be back home,” said Grayson.

But Alexander County Board Chairman Chalen Tatum says just because people can go home doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be wary of the waters.

"We’re advising people to be careful if they try to go back to their house and they have water, because there’s still more water to come in the spring,” said Tatum.

It’s advice Rister is taking, staying somewhere safe until she and her boyfriend can reach their home without a boat.

"I think I’ll just stay there until we can come home. Hopefully that’ll be soon; it’s dropping pretty fast,” she said.

Anyone returning home in Alexander County is being asked to contact the Highway Department first, so the flood damage can be documented. Many roads and homes still can’t be accessed Tuesday night. While many roads and homes cannot be reached except by boat now, county officials are asking people not to walk or drive into floodwaters.

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