Floodwaters receding in Alexander County, revealing damage

Floodwaters are finally starting to drop around Alexander County, Illinois, giving people there a first look at the damage.

Water has been covering roads and separating people like Sherry Pecord from their homes in Miller City. But for the first time in days, Pecord can reach and open her business, Horseshoe Bar and Grill, a few miles down the road from her home. 

"Where that sign pole is, it came up to there. It was really, really deep down there," Pecord said of the water that was around her business. 

High waters forced her to close down May 1. "We closed that night, and today’s the first day open," she said Thursday, May 17. When they closed, she said they had to rush customers out the door, because water was rising so quickly.

Water has been pouring in through a three-fourths mile breach in the Len Small Levee.

"Everything coming through that break is coming right here and going back in the river," said David Willis, an area farmer and president of the Len Small Levee District. Willis’ fields and some of his barns are underwater. he’s seen it multiple times before.

He says he has seen flooding multiple times before, but the levee breach has made this flood different than any other.

"Everything’s so different. You can’t really plan for it, because you don’t know what’s going to happen," Willis said.

"Oh, it’s going to be a week or two before we can see the extent of the damage. After that, we just go from there," Willis said.

Until the floodwaters go down enough to reveal more of the damage, Pecord is settling back into her routine at the grill, serving up burgers to her regulars.

"I’m hoping that we’ll be busy and, you know, we’ll get into a normal life again here (at the restaurant). (For) farming, it’s going to be a while," Pecord said. For now, all they can do is wait and hope more damage isn’t waiting under those waters.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has declined to repair the levee breach created by the New Year’s Flood last winter. Farmers and county workers had planned to start repairs themselves in June, but with heavy flooding this year, they’ll have to wait until it dries out. 

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