Dike reinforcements continue as rain falls along swollen Mississippi
More rain fell along the swollen Mississippi River on Sunday as residents piled their sandbags higher against advancing water.
Even more rain was expected overnight into Monday, but it was not expected to fall heavily across a wide area and some rain already was factored into flood crest predictions, said Rick Kinney, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in the Quad Cities of Iowa and Illinois.
”It would have to fall in a lot larger area to bump up the (flood) crest in any of these places,” said Terry Stieger, emergency manager of the Army Corps of Engineers’ office at Rock Island, Ill.
The river had crested Saturday in East Dubuque, Ill., at about 25.4 feet, more than a foot below the record of 26.8 feet, but was still rising downriver where communities kept up their work to shore up their defenses.
”We had the National Guard walking the levee all night to see if there were any soft spots in it,” said Eugene Flack, mayor of Savanna, Ill., where a handful of homes had flooded as of Sunday. ”The water’s come up 6 to 7 inches from yesterday (but) everything is holding its own.”
In the tiny community of Niota, Ill., the river was at 19.7 feet early Sunday, and was expected to crest Wednesday at about 21.5 feet, volunteer firefighter Christi Rutledge said. The town’s levee was 22 feet high.
”We are building up our levees as we speak,” she said. ”If the river crests where we expect it to, it will sit right up at the top of the levees but it won’t go over.”
Across the river in Iowa, the rising water breached a wall of sandbags around the riverside baseball stadium at Davenport, the only major town along the upper Mississippi that doesn’t have permanent flood protection.
The water covered everything but the diamond after a concrete patio in left field buckled beneath a wall of sandbags, said Kevin Krause, owner-president of the minor league Quad City River Bandits.
”You know, you get used to it. Every so often we get it, and there’s not much you can do about it,” said Jim Keyoth, 69, looking over the ballpark from the nearby Centennial Bridge.
In downtown Davenport, Iowa Army National Guard members used half a dozen pumps to remove rain water that had pooled during the night around backed-up storm drains.
”Hopefully, this will all blow over, and we’ll be in a lot better shape. I’ll be a lot happier when it crests,” said Sgt. 1st Class Dewayne Mahlstedt.
The river is expected to crest Tuesday at Davenport at 22 to 22.5 feet, the third major flood there in eight years and uncomfortably close to the record of 22.63 feet, set in 1993.
Farther upstream, heavy thunderstorms expected to hit southeastern Minnesota had the potential to raise the Mississippi by an inch or two at La Crosse, Wis., said National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Nelson.
The river crested Wednesday at La Crosse at 16.4 feet – flood stage is 12 feet – and it had dropped to 15.7 on Sunday.
”We just don’t need any more bad weather. We just need Mother Nature to cooperate,” said Lori Getter, a spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Division of Emergency Management.
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