River communities prepare for flooding

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Reporter - Kathryn DiGisi

CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY, MO. - Communities in Missouri are preparing for what could be record-breaking flooding this week.

The Memphis District US Army Corps of Engineers began flood preparations in the Dutchtown and Cape Girardeau areas on Monday morning.

The Mississippi River is expected to crest Thursday at Cape Girardeau 13 feet above flood stage.

The Corp of Engineers says Cape Girardeau and Dutchtown will be most heavily affected.

They do not expect this particular flood to reach the Birds-Point, New Madrid Floodway area.

The flood gates are closed on Broadway and Water Street in Cape Girardeau.

But just a few blocks down, where the levee ends, Water street is living up to its name.

Emergency Management Director Richard Knaup is a lifelong resident of Cape Girardeau County.

"I can remember the days before the flood wall in downtown Cape," said Knaup.

Forecasters expect the water to rise two feet a day until Thursday.

He says the floods have become more and more severe, and there is a reason for that.

"As man builds more levees to restrict the river, it's gotta go up higher," said Knaup.

Knaup says his job requires a constant state of preparedness.

"We watch the river closely, the sandbags are divvied out to those who need them, the Corp of Engineers assists Cape Girardeau County and those other villages as need be," said Knaup.

Just a few miles down the road in Dutchtown, where there is not a levee system, the sandbags are going up and the Salvation Army is on call.

Joseph Irvine is assisting the men laying the sandbags.

"We're just making sure they stay hydrated, making sure they stay well-fed so they can keep doing their important work," said Irvine.

The Salvation Army plays a major role in natural disasters.

"It's something that we realize is part of our ministry, so we're ready to go at a moments notice," said Irvine.

He and his team hope their services are not needed as the flood worsens, but he says they will be ready if they are called.

Knaup wants to remind everyone in the flood zone to never drive into a flooded area.

He says it does not take much to float your car.

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