Everything you need to know about the New Year Flood - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Everything you need to know about the New Year Flood

A view of the floodwall while crossing the Bill Emerson Bridge over the Mississippi River in Cape Girardeau, Mo. on New Year's Day. (Source: Polly Holten, cNews) A view of the floodwall while crossing the Bill Emerson Bridge over the Mississippi River in Cape Girardeau, Mo. on New Year's Day. (Source: Polly Holten, cNews)
This is a view from the Mississippi River looking into Cape Girardeau on Dec. 29. This is a view from the Mississippi River looking into Cape Girardeau on Dec. 29.
Scott City, MO (Source: Vivian Goodman/cNews) Scott City, MO (Source: Vivian Goodman/cNews)
The U.S. 51 Ohio River "Cairo" Bridge remains closed due to floodwaters covering the bridge approach levee at the Kentucky end of the bridge. (Source: KYTC) The U.S. 51 Ohio River "Cairo" Bridge remains closed due to floodwaters covering the bridge approach levee at the Kentucky end of the bridge. (Source: KYTC)
A crew of IL. Dept. of Corrections offenders in Olive Branch, Ill. helped with sandbagging efforts on Friday, Jan. 1. (Source: Illinois Emergency Management Agency/Facebook) A crew of IL. Dept. of Corrections offenders in Olive Branch, Ill. helped with sandbagging efforts on Friday, Jan. 1. (Source: Illinois Emergency Management Agency/Facebook)
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Days of heavy rain and record river levels left roads covered with floodwaters and forced residents to evacuate in numerous locations across the Heartland.

At least 25 deaths over several days in Missouri and Illinois were blamed on flooding, mostly involving vehicles that drove onto swamped roadways.

The Mississippi River reached the highest level since the Great Flood of 2011.

President Barack Obama has ordered federal aid to help both state and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions affected by severe storms, tornadoes and flooding.

Missouri is under a state of emergency. Gov. Jay Nixon activated the Missouri National Guard on Tuesday afternoon.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner issued a disaster declaration for 23 counties.

Rauner activated Illinois National Guard soldiers to aid in flood damage relief in southern Illinois.

Approximately 20 soldiers from the 2-130th Infantry Battalion, 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team were ordered to report to the Illinois Army National Guard’s Marion Readiness Center early on New Year’s Day.

For more information, click here.

Resources, Assistance Available for Those Affected by Flooding in Cape Girardeau, North Scott Counties in Missouri

Multi-Agency Resource Center opening on Jan. 8

Community partners will host a Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) in Cape Girardeau, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 8 at the Salvation Army, 701 Good Hope Street. The MARC is a place where individuals affected by flooding in Cape Girardeau and North Scott Counties can come to receive a variety of goods, services and information from said partners.

Those affected by flooding attending the MARC should bring proof that their residence was in an affected area (such as a driver license showing a current address) or piece of mail.

The following organizations will be on hand with information and services at the MARC:

The Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) was at the Horseshoe Lake Chamber of Commerce building from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, January 14.

Case workers, nurses and mental health counselors offered services including debris removal and housing assistance.

Experts offered insurance, legal and food stamp replacement advice.

Some government agencies will require proof of residency.

Before cleaning up flood damage, those affected should take photos of their property and keep any receipts for related expenses. It is IMPERTIVE that people document, document, document the damage, including:

  • Photos of exterior of property under water,
  • photos of exterior after water went down,
  • photos of interior before the contents are removed,
  • photos of interior after contents are removed,
  • photos of damaged contents laid out,
  • written inventory of all personal items damaged, and
  • receipts for purchase of any products, services for cleanup/repair.

Additional information about flooding and its aftermath, including cleanup, is available from the University of Missouri Extension here.

Questions about the MARC event can be directed to Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri's Cape Girardeau offices at 573-335-0134.

President Obama approves MO. Emergency Declaration

President Barack Obama has ordered federal aid to help both state and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions affected by severe storms, tornadoes and flooding.

The president's action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate all disaster relief efforts.

Debris removal and emergency protective measures, limited to direct federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent federal funding.  

MO Gov. Nixon seeks federal declaration for flood

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon says he's asking for a federal emergency declaration in the wake of severe flooding in the St. Louis area.

Nixon says he'll ask the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to help collect and dispose of the debris. Nixon made the announcement in Eureka at a drop-off point where flood debris and refuse have been piling up.

If the emergency declaration is approved, the Missouri National Guard will manage the program.

For more information, click here.

IL Gov. Rauner extends disaster proclamation

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner announced 23 counties are included in the state disaster declaration for widespread flooding.

Those counties include: Alexander, Calhoun, Christian, Clinton, Douglas, Jackson, Jersey, Madison, Monroe, Morgan, Randolph and St. Clair 

On Tuesday, Dec. 5, Rauner extended the declaration to include: Cass, Cumberland, Iroquois, Lawrence, Marion, Menard, Moultrie, Pike, Richland, Sangamon and Vermilion.

A state disaster declaration makes a wide variety of state resources available that can help communities respond and recover from flooding.  Such resources include sandbags, sand, pumps, trucks, inmate crews and other assistance to ensure public safety.

Rauner will consider requesting a major disaster declaration, depending on damage reports from across the state.

Mississippi River peaked ahead of schedule

City officials in Cape Girardeau are cautiously optimistic that the river may have reached its peak.

Measurements of the river levels as of 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 2 have the level at 48.49 feet and levels appear to continue to be falling.

This is short of the previously projected peak level, which was listed as 50 feet by early Sunday morning.

Authorities wish to warn the public that Cape Girardeau and the surrounding areas are still considered to be in “major flood stage” in. Crews will continue to inspect wall and levee structures several times a day while the water remains elevated.

The floodwall gates in Cape Girardeau continue to remain closed. Both pumping stations have remained in operation.

Several roads in select areas of Cape Girardeau remain closed due to flooding. The Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge and Interstate 55 access to town remain open, with no current intention of being closed.

The public is asked to not stop on the Bill Emerson Bridge to view the river. This is causing a public safety concern and blocking traffic.

Crews will assess cleanup needs along streets as water levels continue to recede.

River mayors assess damage of New Year Flood

Three city mayors along the Mississippi River took part in a conference call on Monday with the Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative. 

Alton, Ill. Mayor Brent Walker, Cape Girardeau Mayor Harry Rediger and New Madrid Mayor Donnie Brown provided updates on their cities that were affected by the historic flooding on the Mississippi River from the past week.

Rediger said that they had 20 homes and eight businesses that sustained damage due to the floodwaters. These homes and businesses were mainly in the Red Star district and on the south side of Cape Girardeau near Highway 74.

Many city employees, emergency personnel, and volunteers helped out by filling sandbags, checking on levees and even building levees.

"The EOC were well trained and did a great job," Rediger said. "The flood wall saved the majority of downtown."

The downtown flood wall is 55 years old, according to Rediger.

While cleanup efforts begin in Cape Girardeau, Rediger said there has been considerable debris that has been left behind in the flooding a wake.

"There's a lot of junk and lots of debris," Rediger said. "We have some major cleanup."

Crews even built a 1,200 to 1,500 foot levee in a short period of time to help protect the concrete plant.

Two new sinkholes have formed on South Sprigg Street and an older sinkhole from 2011 has widened due to the recent flooding. These sinkholes have occurred in uninhabited areas according to Rediger.

The Mississippi River rose to a historic new level of 48.86 feet which passed the old level of 48.5 feet in 1993.

In New Madrid, the flooding was expected to crest on Monday. While they haven't seen major flooding there, they have had some work to do  to prepare for what was earlier expected as a major concern.

"We had time to drain rainwater after all the rain we had," Mayor Brown said.

The record river levels were recently set in 2011 when the river rose to 48.3 feet. Last week, it was projected to rise to 47 feet.

That meant all hands on deck for New Madrid employees to prepare for this flooding event.

Fortunately for New Madrid, river levels topped out at 43 feet on Monday. Brown said due to the unfortunate breaches in Alexander County and Scott County, that helped lower the river levels there in New Madrid which relieved some pressure on their levee.

New Madrid has new pump stations online and new generators to help with the flooding efforts. They acquired these new items after a major rain event in 2006 that hit New Madrid City pretty hard.

For Alton, Ill., it also has seen some major flooding last week and the cleanup has begun already.

"We haven't assessed everything yet but there is significant damage expected," Mayor Walker said.

Crews had to act fast after receiving around 12 inches of rain last week. They constructed a 1,000 foot block barrier wall downtown very quickly.

"Have we not put that wall up, we would not have saved downtown," Walker said. "It looked like the Berlin Wall downtown. It was a miracle we got that wall up quickly."

They faced more than rain up there while seeing historic flooding as well.

"We faced the river and weather elements," Walker said. "It snowed when I was sandbagging."

So now, the city mayors take what information they can that happened with this flood and try to make it a little easier on them for the next time.

Mayor Rediger said they have some projects in the works already.

They have two area bridges that need raising, completion of renovations for the flood wall, and to further complete the buyouts of the homes and businesses that were affected by the recent flooding.

For Mayor Brown, they plan on getting new relief wells to help alleviate sand books and help weaker areas. They also are trying to get new piping to help shore up levees and improve them.

MRCTI had recently received a 100 million dollar fund for a pre-disaster grant which could help offset any costs needed in areas along the Mississippi River due to flooding. 

Evacuations

East Cape Girardeau/McClure, IL

Residents of East Cape Girardeau and McClure were allowed back into their homes on Tuesday, Jan. 5 after being urged to evacuate to higher ground.

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the Illinois State Police are supporting Alexander County officials’ encouraged residents in low-lying areas to evacuate.

East Cape Girardeau residents started moving back on Tuesday, Jan. 5.

On New Year's Eve, officials advised residents in Fayeville, Miller City, Willard, Olive Branch, Hodges Park, Unity and Sandusky to leave the area because of a high potential for water to overtop the Len Small levee. That expected overtopping began today.

For more information, click here.

Alexander County, IL

An emergency evacuation was in place for Alexander County residents behind the Len Small Levee.

The levee had several breaches which flooded homes in the area. Areas impacted include Fayville, Miller City, Willard, Olive Branch, Hodges Park, Unity, Sandusky, and Cache.

Officials ask those in Alexander County who leave their home to contact one of three numbers to advise them of the address and contact information for the home owners.

Those numbers are:

  • Chalen Tatum - Alexander County Board Chariman at 618-521-8102
  • Tim Brown - Alexander County Sheriff at 618203-6057
  • EMA Operations at the Alexander County Highway Department at 618-776-5431

Officials will compile a list of impacted residents so they know who made it safely out of the area and set up extra patrols for the areas affected.

Union County, IL

Union County authorities issued a voluntary evacuation, that was officially lifted as of 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2016.

The Union County Sheriff's Office, ambulance service and Emergency Management Agency advised residents that live in low-lying areas that are prone to flooding to voluntarily evacuate these areas immediately. 

Union County authorities said they appreciate the residents who evacuated, despite the inconvenience. The sheriff's office says for the safety of the public, it was a necessary action.

"It was very heartwarming to see our community come together in a time of great need to help their neighbors in difficult times," the sheriff's office said in a news release.

All levee roads in Union County remain closed to public traffic.

Visit the Ready Illinois website for road updates.

Jackson County, IL

The Jackson County Emergency Management Agency reports the Big Muddy and Mississippi Rivers continue to recede, which is why county officials will not seek an extension of the emergency declaration.

Originally, recommendations to evacuate the Grand Tower area were upgraded to an emergency status because of increased concern by the US Army Corps of Engineers for the stability of a section of the Big Muddy River Levee.

However, the EMA reports that evacuation will be lifted as of 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 6.

If assistance is needed in moving back or if you would like to volunteer to assist with the move back, call the Jackson County Volunteer Coordinator 618-534-9212.  If you had put your house on special patrol with the Sheriff's Department, please notify them as you return home at 684-2773.

The EMA also submitted a request to reopen the Big Muddy River to boat traffic. There have been 38 slides identified on the Big Muddy and Mississippi Rivers. Portions of the levee roads will continue to be closed to traffic.

The Big Muddy River is expected to reopen on Wednesday, however, there is minimal clearance under some bridges, so boats are encouraged to use caution. 

Minor flooding affecting parts of western KY/TN

Western Tennessee and Kentucky faced flood threats as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Tennessee Valley Authority worked to control water levels.

Nashville District continues to manage water releases supporting flood operations

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District staff continues to monitor stream conditions throughout the Cumberland River Basin and to manage the release of water from dams within the basin to support flood operations on the lower Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.

Ben Rohrbach, Nashville District Hydrology and Hydraulics Branch chief, said the Corps is operating its dams in the Cumberland River Basin to hold back as much water as possible until the flood crest passes Cairo, Illinois on the Ohio River. These actions are being coordinated with the Tennessee Valley Authority, which is managing its dams in the Tennessee River Basin.

“The entire system is operated in a coordinated fashion. We’re limiting releases from our storage reservoirs like Lake Cumberland, Dale Hollow Lake, Center Hill Lake and J. Percy Priest Lake while we are storing water in Lake Barkley to reduce water levels downstream,” Rohrbach said.
He said he expects elevated flows in the Cumberland River as the Corps of Engineers begins to release water to lower lake levels in the coming days, as the high water levels on the lower Ohio and Mississippi Rivers recede.

The Lake Barkley headwater is forecast to crest near elevation 367 feet late Wednesday. Discharges at Barkley Dam are expected to gradually increase to 100,000 cubic feet per second by Friday.

Increased discharges, including spillway releases, are also anticipated at Old Hickory Dam in Old Hickory, Tenn., and Cheatham Dam in Ashland City, Tenn., later this week. This is a result of operations at reservoirs upstream, such as Center Hill Dam and Wolf Creek Dam, where discharges are expected to average around 11,000 and 23,000 cubic feet per second, respectively, for the next couple of weeks as lake levels are lowered.

“A lot of people may not know what a cubic foot of water is or what the impact of a particular lake level might be,” Rohrbach said. “What the technical jargon means in this situation is that these flows will not cause flooding, but will result in higher than normal river levels and swifter currents. The public is encouraged to be careful when on or near the waterway.”

Levees

Missouri

Officials have confirmed that a levee has breached south of Commerce, Mo., in Scott County.

No injuries have been reported, and the land flooded constitutes mostly empty farmland.

Officials say a levee was breached late New Year's Eve afternoon/early evening in Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri. 

According to Ste. Genevieve EMA Director Felix Meyer, it happened south of the City of Ste. Genevieve and north of the Bourbon Port.

It was an agricultural levee.

There was some concern that there would be a breach at at a portion of the levee to begin with, but it ended up breaching in a different spot.

Water rushed into an area of just farmland and fields.

Nobody was hurt and no homes were in the area. Crews were checking to see if there was any damage.

The Meramec River crested at a record level in the partially evacuated St. Louis suburb of Valley Park, but the shored-up levees held back the waters.

The National Weather Service says the river hit its peak of 44.11 feet at around 3 a.m. on Thursday, that's 4.39 feet higher than the record set in 1982.

Due to the current river levels, the Birds Point New Madrid Floodway frontline levee was closed between Birds Point and New Madrid, Mo. The levee closure will remain in effect until the river levels fall below 43 feet on the Cairo gauge and 34 feet on the New Madrid gauge. Closure signs are posted and persons seen driving on the frontline levee may be cited or arrested for trespassing.

The Corps began mobilizing people, barges and operational equipment from various locations to begin possible Birds Point - New Madrid floodway operations. They do not anticipate operating the floodway, but are preparing to if necessary.

The Corps intentionally breached the levee in May 2011 to relieve pressure on a swollen Mississippi River. Three levee blasts flooded 130,000 acres of Mississippi County farmland. (Click here to watch the blast.) The Corps has since worked to repair the levee to replace flood protection along the Mississippi River.

The Corps is also maximizing use of its available storage space in the Kentucky-Barkley reservoirs, essentially reducing the crest from 61.0 feet or higher. Confidence in this historic river forecast is high.

Forty U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employees were on the field each day from 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. to watch the condition of levees in the Charleston, Mo. area, the Reelfoot-Obion Kentucky area, the Cairo, Ill. area on the Lower Mississippi River, and the Upper St. Francis Area on the St. Francis River.

Fifteen additional employees were designated to assist at the USACE Emergency Operations Center at the District Headquarters office in Memphis.

The Coast Guard also closed a portion of the Upper Mississippi River to all vessel traffic from mile markers 184 to 179, due to hazardous condition on the river near St. Louis.

Illinois

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner was in Grand Tower, Ill. on Saturday, Jan. 2 to address the flooding, confirming that floodwaters have breached five levees in Alexander County.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner issued a state disaster proclamation for seven counties to help communities respond and recover from flooding caused by the recent heavy rains. Those counties include Calhoun, Jackson, Jersey, Madison, Monroe, Randolph and St. Clair.

According to the National Weather Service, rainfall between December 23-28 averaged about seven inches in the declared counties.

Cairo, Illinois is predicted to crest at 59 feet on January 5. That is the third highest on record.

The Memphis District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers begins flood-fight activities when the river gauge at Cairo reaches 49.0 feet. It's expected to be at 52 feet on Dec. 30.

Coast Guard issues high water safety advisory

The Coast Guard released the following high water closures and restrictions, as of 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 7:

Coast Guard Sector Upper Mississippi River:

  • The Coast Guard Captain of the Port has re-opened the Mississippi River surrounding the St. Louis Harbor from mile marker 179 to mile marker 185. Vessels operating in this area must be in compliance with horsepower and barge restrictions in accordance with the Western Rivers Waterways Action Plan.
  • Illinois River is open with restrictions between mile markers 0 to 50 from Hardin, Illinois to Valley City, Illinois. Mariners are asked to minimize wake and avoid laying vessels against saturated levees. Recreational traffic is strongly discouraged due to debris and swift currents. The Illinois River remains closed between mile marker 50 and mile marker 102. 
  • The Missouri River is open to vessel traffic.
  • The Coast Guard urges mariners to monitor VHF-FM channels 16 and 22 for any changes to the river.
  • For more details on the closures set in place by Sector Upper Mississippi River call the command center at 314-269-2610. 

Coast Guard Sector Ohio Valley: 

  • The Coast Guard has reopened the Mississippi River from mile marker 110, near Chester Illinois, to mile marker 34, near Billings Landing, Missouri.
  • A safety advisory is in place from mile marker 110 to mile marker 0. While river stages are decreasing, mariners are advised that drift, debris, and strong currents may be a hazard to navigation.
  • For more details on the restrictions set in place by Sector Ohio Valley call the command center at 1-800-253-7465.

The Coast Guard continues to work with the Army Corps of Engineers to monitor the integrity of the levee systems in Ohio Valley and around the Cape Girardeau region.

Coast Guard Sector Lower Mississippi River:

  • High water safety advisory on Lower Mississippi River from mile marker 869, near Caruthersville, Missouri, to mile marker 303 near Natchez, Mississippi.
  • Russell B. Long Lock and Dam #4 on Red River open to traffic.
  • Safety zone between mile markers 737 and 734 on the Lower Mississippi River.
  • For more details on the restrictions set in place by Sector Lower Mississippi River call the command center at 901-521-4824.

Flooding disrupts train/Amtrak routes

Amtrak suspended traffic on a route that runs from Kansas City to St. Louis because of flooding in Missouri.

Amtrak spokesman Craig Schulz says the cancellations started Wednesday, Dec. 30.

He says passengers with tickets on the River Runner will be bused on Thursday, 31 though that service will bypass the two cities that are popular because of nearby wineries.

Train service from Kansas City to Jefferson City will resume Friday, Jan. 1. People going on to St. Louis will have to ride a bus.

The Amtrak route shares a line that is also used for freight traffic.

Union Pacific says two sections of track in Missouri and two in Illinois were out of service because of rising waters. The Missouri stretches span from Jefferson City to St. Louis and from St. Louis to De Soto. The Illinois stretches span from Mount Vernon to Percy and from Springfield to Nelson.

Omaha, Nebraska-based Union Pacific says in a statement that 70 trains in the St. Louis area have been held or rerouted because of high water levels.

Crews have put rock ballast, heavy machinery and generators in several areas near flooded tracks to assist with repairs when water levels fall.

Flood response in Missouri

Gov. Nixon stopped in Perryville on Tuesday, Dec. 29 to discuss flooding.

Water levels in some locations along the Mississippi River are currently predicted to match or exceed the records set during the Great Flood of 1993.

Nixon declared a state of emergency in Missouri on Sunday as heavy rain, flooding and flash flooding continue to impact much of the state. 

He mobilized the Missouri National Guard on Tuesday.

Click here for a list of flooded roads in the Heartland.

In addition, 124 areas on rivers in Missouri are in various flood stages.

He said Tuesday that the state's death toll has risen to 13.

Nixon says the majority of the victims drowned after driving into floodwaters.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol says several of the deaths happened in south-central Missouri's Pulaski County. That's where four international soldiers from Fort Leonard Wood drowned, as did two other people when their vehicle was swept away 10 miles from the soldiers. The death of a fifth soldier was confirmed on Tuesday. There have been no flooding deaths in southeast Missouri.

The National Weather Service predicts the Mississippi River at the Chester, Ill., gauge, across the river from Perry County, will crest at 49.7 feet on Friday – matching the previous record set in 1993.

The levee district in Perryville has been working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to fortify the Bois Brule levee to protect area homes and businesses, including Sabreliner Corporation and Gilster-Mary Lee. They are focusing on building up the southern end of the levee.

The National Weather Services predicts the Mississippi River at Thebes south of Cape Girardeau is expected to crest at 47.5 feet on Saturday, nearly two feet above the previous record. Other rivers are also predicted to reach historic highs. 

Nixon pledged state support to help counties monitor levees and river levels from the air. 

He urged residents not go sightseeing in the floodwaters for their safety. 

"This is a flood fight that's going to be close, very close," Nixon said alluding to the Great Flood of 1993.

He said that while the river may hit higher numbers than in 1993, there won't be the same sustained flooding as 1993.

"We're talking about fighting a flood fight and trying to win that fight and protect the land that we're sitting on right here and not see it inundated," Nixon said.

He said his focus is to save lives, help the local levee district fight the flood fight, and keep security. If areas are evacuated, he wants to make sure those areas stay safe.

"I'll commit to you that we will be here with you in this fight," Nixon said. "We'll provide the assets that are necessary. And when the water starts going down, we'll be the first people here to make sure that the economic loss is as small as it can possibly be. All during that we're going to make sure people are safe as they possibly can be during what's a difficult situation."

Nixon urges city and county officials to keep an accurate record of any damages caused by the flood. State damages must reach $8 million before federal figures allow for reimbursement.

Cape Girardeau County

In Cape Girardeau, the river crested at an all time high, but that doesn't mean the fight is over.

In the Red Star District a handful of homes, businesses and outbuildings still have flood prevention measures in place, or were damaged by water. The water reached the Sloan Creek Bridge for the first time ever.

One man who was at Red Star Baptist Church said the timing of the flood is the strangest part of the whole ordeal.

"You've got businesses over here to the east, a transmission shop down to the south of us and these peoples' livelihoods have been impacted by this," Wayne Moore said. "Who would have dreamed that here, in this time of the year, we would have had something like this, but we did."

The Mississippi River is expected to drop to 38 feet by Friday, Jan. 8.

You can click here to see what the Cape Girardeau Public Works director said they've learned from the New Year Flood.

At 1 p.m. on Dec. 31, the NWS revised their projected flood crest for Cape Girardeau. The revised it from 48.5 feet to 50 feet. The crest was expected in early morning hours of Sunday, Jan. 3.

At a potential 50 foot crest, the river level was still 3 feet or more below the top of the flood wall in downtown, and about 4 feet from the top of Cape Girardeau's levees.

City Development Services/Public Works staff reported 18 residences now under water, with seven more likely to encounter flooding over the weekend. Six homes were not accessible, but elevated and not likely to experience flooding.

The Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge in Cape Girardeau remains OPEN at this time. 

Some city streets, services and citizens have been, and will continue to be, affected by rising water levels. However, many previous issues resulting from high water levels have been alleviated through past storm water mitigation work by the City of Cape Girardeau, and state and federal government.

Debris removal

Debris remains a concern as the flood waters recede. Cape Girardeau residents have two options for clean-up. You can drop off debris at the city's transfer station, which reopened on Thursday, Jan. 7 for regular business hours.

You can also drop off debris through Wednesday at the CWI's privately run facility at 18716 Highway 177 (just west of Procter & Gamble). Rules and restrictions could apply. For more information, call CWI direct at 573-339-0299.

Leaf pick up, Christmas tree pick up, compost bag collection and more services will resume on Jan. 19 and Jan. 27. They were suspended due to flooding. You can click here for more information.

Cape Girardeau residents can also schedule a special Wednesday pick-up of debris. Certain restrictions apply. More details can be found at cityofcape.org/publicworks or call 573-339-6351.

Osage Centre shelter to close at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 5

The shelter at the Osage Centre in Cape Girardeau will close at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 5. Meeting rooms at the Osage Centre were opened to flooding evacuees by the American Red Cross of Southeast Missouri. The Osage Centre is located at 1625 North Kingshighway in Cape Girardeau. The Red Cross continues other areas as the river crest and flooding continues. Those who may still need emergency assistance can call the Red Cross at 573-335-9471.

Shelter For Pets Available at 4-H Building in Arena Park

A pet shelter is now open at Arena Park at the 4-H Building. It will be open tonight until 7:30 p.m. and then daily from 8 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. daily until further notice. Animal owners should bring the animal’s immunization records and if animal takes a special diet the owner will need to supply it to the shelter fo

The Cape Girardeau County Sheriff's Office issued a voluntary evacuation advisory Monday for residents in Allenville, Mo. and those living along the Diversion Channel Headwaters from Bollinger County into Cape Girardeau County because of high flood waters. Cape Girardeau EMA Director Richard Knaup says if conditions hold, this could mean record flooding for the Allenville community. Knaup says anyone needing help should contact the Red Cross in Cape Girardeau.

Some city streets, services, and citizens have been, and will be, affected by rising water levels.

Cape Girardeau city flood gate, trail and road closures

Plans to elevate Old Highway 61 off of South Kingshighway in Cape Girardeau have been suspended as of 8 a.m. on January 2nd. The roadway remains open at this time, and updates will be posted as necessary.

Other closures as of Friday, Jan. 1 at 5 p.m. 

  • The northern railroad, Broadway and Themis Street flood gates in downtown Cape Girardeau have been closed. Crews expect the southern railroad gate to close later this week.
  • Portions of the Cape LaCroix Recreation Trail are underwater. For your safety, please consider using other areas for walking, jogging or biking in the city at this time.
  • Flooding from the Capaha Park lagoon required barricades on Perry Avenue near Broadway on Tuesday, Dec. 28.
  • Barricades are up at Old Highway 61, south of South Sprigg Street and South Kingshighway.
  • Barricades will also be set up as needed in the Red Star area north of downtown Cape Girardeau.
  • Closed: South Kingshighway from Route 74 to the Diversion Channel (Source: MoDOT), Old Highway 61 off of South Kingshighway, starting at 6 a.m. on Jan. 2

The sandbags and sand provided by Cape Girardeau Public Works and at the Merriwether Pump Station and Red Star Baptist Church in Cape Girardeau are for people showing a photo I.D. with an address in Cape Girardeau’s city limits only. Sand bags for Cape Girardeau residents still remain at Public Works, and sand to fill the bags remains at the Merriwether Pump Station (Main Street near parking lot / Boardman Pavilion) and Red Star Baptist Church (1301 Main Street).

Cape Girardeau county residents may contact Cape Girardeau Co. Emergency Management Office in Jackson, 1 Barton Square, to receive bags to fill with sand. Stop into the Emergency Management Office during business hours (8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.) so they can note your contact info and number of bags needed before leaving with bags.

As of noon on Friday, Dec. 31, the City of Cape Girardeau had given out about 17,000 sand bags.

The American Red Cross in southeast Missouri is on the ground, addressing the immediate needs of those affected by the dangerous and extreme flooding.

Shelters and volunteers will remain on standby for the duration of the weather events.

Public Works’ Leaf Pick Up, Compost, Brush Collection and Drop Off Suspended Until Further Notice

The Wednesday special collection service of compost bags, bundled limbs and brush in Cape Girardeau is suspended, effective immediately, until further notice. Service to the compost drop off containers at the Recycling Center Facility, 2007 Southern Expressway, is also suspended. Leaf program routes are also suspended at this time.

The City of Cape Girardeau Public Works Department's holding area for collected compost, limbs and brush is currently inaccessible due to Mississippi River flooding. As soon as the River drops below flood stage and the holding area is available, Public Works will resume Wednesday special collections and compost drop off at the Recycling Center.

This also affects scheduled Christmas tree pick up. Residents can still drop used Christmas trees off at Arena Park. The City will resume tree pick up once river levels recede.

Other options for yard refuse and compost:
The Transfer Station, located in the 2500 block of South Sprigg Street, will accept limbs or brush for $57.50 per ton plus the weekly fuel surcharge rate.

Some yard waste may be burned according to the City's open burning regulations. Please check with the Cape Girardeau Fire Department before burning yard waste whether or not today is an "okay to burn" or "no burn day" by visiting cityofcape.org/fire, or by calling 573-339-6330.

Iron County

The South Iron County Fire Protection District caught video of a vehicle just as it was swept away by rising floodwaters on Monday. Luckily, the people inside made it to safety before their vehicle was pushed off the road.

Pemiscot County

The St. Francis Levee District will be closing the flood gates at Ward and Walker in Caruthersville. Bunge will be bringing in several loads of rock in an attempt to prevent the elevators from being damaged by floodwater. Due to safety with the high traffic along with the flood waters, the gates will be closed until after the river recedes.

The Pemiscot County Sheriff’s Office is reporting as of Wednesday, Dec. 30 it will be patrolling the levee system because of the rising Mississippi River levels.

At this time, no one is allowed to be on the levee or on the sides of the levee and anyone caught violating this order will be asked to leave and not return to the levee until further notified.

Deputies will be working overtime to enforce this request.

The Pemiscot County Sheriff’s Office reports this is only a precaution, and as of now there are no reported problem areas in the system.

Perry County

The National Guard started round-the-clock shifts in Perry County, Mo. on Dec. 29. They say their goal is to make sure residents can get to and from their homes; and make sure those that shouldn't be there stay out.

The Perry County Emergency Operations Center was activated in response to the rapidly rising Mississippi River flood stage along the Bois Brule Levee District.

The Perry County Levee District Board, Perry County Commission and emergency management office in coordination with the Missouri Department of Transportation closed one lane of traffic on Highway 51 along the Mississippi River Bridge connecting Chester, Ill. and Perry County, Mo. in preparation to close the Bois Brule Levee on the Missouri side of the river.

The Route 51 Chester Bridge over the Mississippi River from Perry County, Mo. to Chester, Ill. will reopen Monday night.

Highway 51 and the bridge River have been closed by floodwaters for nearly a week.

The bridge will reopen to traffic Monday, Jan. 4 at 7 p.m.

The Missouri Department of Transportation is in charge of making sure the bridge is safe after the recent New Year Flood had river levels cresting at 45.99 feet at Chester. 

Perry County Sheriff Gary Schaaf said crews planned to clean Highway 51 and possibly the Chester bridge on Monday.

Schaaf said MoDOT had to wait for river levels to get low enough for safety inspectors to check out the bridge for any structural damage.

Crews limited traffic on Highway 51 leading to the bridge in Perry County, Mo. to one lane Monday, Dec. 28, in order to prepare for closing the levee.

Highway 51 and the bridge were both closed to traffic at noon on Tuesday, Dec. 29, and have been shut down to traffic every since.

As of 8:30 a.m. CST Jan. 4, river levels at Chester were recorded at 41.95 feet, still above major flood stage which is listed at 40.0 feet.

Crews limited traffic on Highway 51 leading to the bridge in Perry County, Mo. to one lane Monday, Dec. 28, in order to prepare for closing the levee.

Authorities temporarily shut down Hwy. 51 in Perry County on Dec. 29 as Saberliner moved four airplanes to higher ground.

Two city parks in Perryville were under water on Monday. The Lithium Park was also flooded.

Only local and authorized traffic is advised beyond the Highway 51 and Main Street intersection in Perryville.

Residents in Perry County can report all water covered roadways and flood related questions to the PCEOC at (573) 547-4000.

Reports have been made of people walking on the Chester bridge. This is prohibited and unsafe. Advise people to stay off the bridge. If you see someone walking on the bridge, report it to local law enforcement.

Scott County

Officials in Scott County, Missouri are reporting that several houses have been evacuated because of flooding. Although an official order has not been issued, several Scott County residents have evacuated their homes.

Ste. Genevieve County

Ste. Genevieve city and county officials met Monday morning.The levee flood gates were closed on Sunday afternoon and will remain closed until the flood waters have receded. 

Crews are adding rock to the top of the levee as an added precautionary measure.

Ste. Genevieve residents and businesses along the Gabouri Creek and east of Third Street, are suggested to take the following actions:

  • Prepare to implement their personal emergency plan in the event of flash flooding, including, moving items of value to a higher level or out of the structure, planning to vacate the property in case an evacuation is called for, etc.
  • Contact relatives and inform them of their plan to relocate outside of the district if an evacuation is called for in the impacted area. 
  • Residents who plan to relocate should consider a place for their pets – if they cannot go with them, they can consider contacting the County Animal Shelter at 573-883-5899.
  • Depending on the revised river forecast on Tuesday, a decision will be made by Laclede Gas as to whether gas meters in the area may be cut off.  If the gas meter at your residence or business is impacted, this may necessitate evacuation at your property.  
  • For elderly residents and other residents who need assistance, City Hall has started a list of those who need help in moving items, and matching them up with volunteers. 
  • Call 573-883-5400 to be added to the list.

Flood response in Illinois

According to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, a crew of Illinois Department of Corrections offenders in Olive Branch was one of 13 offender crews assisting with sandbagging efforts on Friday, Jan. 2.

The agency posted on their Facebook page that there were six crews in Alexander Co., four crews in Meredosia, two crews in Petersburg and on crew in Union Co.

Alexander County

Alexander County

The American Red Cross is operating a Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) for Alexander County residents on Thursday, Jan. 14, to provide assistance to those affected by flooding. The goal of the MARC is to provide a single location where residents can access everything they need for an effective recovery. Many faith-based, government and humanitarian organization will be on hand to offer services. The resource center will be held at the Horseshoe Lake Chamber of Commerce on Railroad Street from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

On Jan. 14, volunteers with the First Baptist Church in Harrisburg will help complete more than 50 flood-related work orders in Olive Branch. "The Mudout Crew" will remove water-damaged furniture, and clean the flood-induced much from people's homes now that the floodwaters have receded. Volunteers will meet in Olive Branch on Thursday morning.

Jackson County

The Big Muddy and Mississippi Rivers continue to recede.

The emergency declaration for Jackson County expires on Tuesday night, Jan. 5 and officials will not be seeking an extension. The evacuation recommendation will be lifted at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 6. If assistance is needed in moving back, or if you would like to volunteer to assist with the move back, call the Jackson County Volunteer Coordinator 618-534-9212. If you had put your house on special patrol with the sheriff's department, please notify them as you return home at 684-2773.

A request to open the Big Muddy River to boat traffic has been submitted and the river is expected to be open on Wednesday morning. There will be minimal clearance under some bridges and boats are encouraged to use caution. There have been 38 slides identified on the Big Muddy and Mississippi Rivers.

Portions of the levee roads will continue to be closed to traffic.

The American Red Cross shelter at the Murphysboro American Legion is open for those displaced by the floods.

Residents who previously notified the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office that they were evacuating should notify the Sheriff’s Office at 618-684-2773 when they return home.

Once the evacuation recommendation has been lifted, Jackson County will continue to provide volunteer support while residents move back into their homes. Volunteers wishing to help in this effort, or those seeking volunteer assistance, can call the volunteer support center at 618-534-9212.

The Ava Fire Department reported to Grand Tower on Friday, Jan. 1 to help with evacuation and pump water away from town as they say authorities prepare for the Big Muddy levee to go.

On Thursday morning, Dec. 31 the Jackson Co. EMA said flood fighting efforts on the Mississippi River were complete with exception of some minor issues that were being addressed.

Jackson County leaders signed a disaster declaration for the county.

Residents needing assistance with evacuation or sheltering should call 618-684-3137. Anyone evacuating is encouraged to notify the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department at 618-684-6773 to be included on house watch patrols in the area. A request form is available at the sheriff’s department and online at www.JacksonCountyEMA.com

Sandbags and plastic for the Big Muddy Levee have been sent to Jackson County from the Illinois Department of Transportation. Firefighters and volunteers are working to reinforce the levee as the water rises.

Anyone wanting to volunteer for the flood fighting efforts, can call the Jackson County Volunteer Coordinator at 618-534-9212. If you are volunteering, you must prepared to be self-sufficient with respect to adequate clothing, gloves, food, etc.

IDOT District 9 Engineer Keith Miley said the flood gate at Cora, Ill. was closed Monday morning, Dec. 28. This is on Route 3. Miley says a few thousand people travel through this area per day. 

Volunteers can go to the Cora flood gates to help sandbag, or go to St. Ann's Catholic Church in Raddle or bottoms up in Neunert to help people load their belongings. They need boxes, tarps, duct and packing tape, bungee cords etc. You can take those things to these locations, as well. Also, there's a drop off at Murphysboro Electric.

The city of Ava, Illinois is making all city property available to flood victims to store anything they have to prevent any loss. The city also has hook up for campers at the city park for any displaced individuals. There is no charge and anyone is welcome to use. Call 618-425-3641, 618-534-4550, or 618-967-1021 for more information. 

Randolph County

The Randolph County Sheriff's Office is asking that anybody traveling north on State Route 3 toward Red Bud or south toward Chester to choose an alternate route.

Alternate routes include:

North from Red Bud to Chester - From State Route 3, take Shawneetown Trail East to the Shawneetown Trail/Palestine Road intersection and turn north (left) onto Walsh Road. Continue north to State Route 154 in Baldwin. This route will take you east to Sparta or west to Red Bud.

South from Red Bud to Chester - Take State Route 154 east to Baldwin. Turn (right) onto Baldwin Road and continue to Schuline Road. Continue traveling south onto Walsh Road to the Shawneetown Trail/Palestine Road intersection. Continue straight onto Palestine Road into Chester.

Traveling to Cape Girardeau from Chester - Take State Route 150 East to State Route 4 South. Turn right onto State Route 4 South to Route 151 "Kent Heller Highway" and turn right. Continue on Route 151 to State Route 3 South and turn left. Continue on State Route 3 South to Route 146 "East Cape Girardeau" turn off. This will take you across the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge in Cape Girardeau.

Traveling to Cape Girardeau from Red Bud - Take State Route 154 East to Sparta. Turn right onto State Route 4 and continue for about 10 miles. At the intersection, turn (left) onto State Route 150/4. Take State Route 150/4 East to State Route 4. Turn right onto State Route 4 and continue to Route 151 "Kent Heller Highway" in Ava and turn right. Continue on Route 151 to State Route 3 South and turn left. Continue on State Route 3 South to Route 146 "East Cape Girardeau" turn off. This will take you across the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge in Cape Girardeau.

The Menard Correction Center near Chester, Ill. is on lockdown because there is "minor flooding" in some cells.

Illinois Department of Corrections spokeswoman Nicole Wilson says officials have begun transferring some inmates from the prison to other locations because of flooding.

The road leading to the prison remains closed from flooding.

The facility houses nearly 3,700 inmates. State officials did not indicate how many inmates were forced to relocate.

Prison officials say they hope to avoid having to shut down the prison's water service but have ample bottled water and portable toilets on hand just in case.

Flood response in Kentucky

Ballard County, KY

The U.S. 45 Ohio River "Cairo" Bridge is closed due to rising floodwaters. The road was closed to traffic at about 12:20 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 31. It is expected to be closed into Thursday, Jan. 7 or possibly Friday, Jan. 8. KYTC engineers have barricaded the road to prevent truckers and motorists from moving Road Closed signs and driving off into the floodwaters near the 6.6 mile point on U.S. 51.

U.S. 45 was also closed south of Wickliffe near the Ballard-Carlisle County line a short time later.

Paducah, KY

The latest forecast issued on Friday afternoon, Jan. 1 by the National Weather Service for the Ohio River at Paducah shows an updated river crest of 45.5 feet for Tuesday, January 5.

This updated crest is two feet lower than the previous forecast.

“This updated crest eliminates the need for the City to install any of the twelve gates previously planned for Saturday,” said City Engineer-Public Works Director Rick Murphy.

Earlier in the week, the forecast crest was 49 feet which led the city to make preparations to install the floodgates. Then the forecast crest was revised to 47.5 feet. The city decided at that time to continue with the plan to install the gates. But now with the new crest forecast, the city does not need to go forward with gate installation.

The city’s pump stations are in operation due to the river level.

KYTC advising against driving around road barriers, warns about fine for ignoring signage

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet continues to work with area police and emergency management agencies to monitor closure sites. KYTC says they've had a number of locations where people continue to remove ROAD CLOSED signs and drive through floodwaters.

According to KYTC, people who do that endanger themselves, and others who follow who may be unaware they are approaching a flooded roadway.

Barricades at several locations have been reinforced with piles of asphalt millings blocking the roadway.

KYTC said two vehicles were found stuck on Thursday where they had attempted to drive around the blockade. Both drivers were cited by police.

As a friendly reminder, KYTC says the fine for ignoring a traffic control device is $244.

While the safety of motorists driving roadways in flooded areas is always a concern, KYTC said they are encountering a number of cross country travelers who are showing up at the US 51 Ohio River "Cairo" Bridge closure unaware that the roadway is closed or that we have a major flood.

Flood response in Tennessee

The city of Dyersburg sent a pre-evacuation notice to residents living on S. Town, B Street, Gentry, Lincoln, Southern Ave., Rosemont, River Ridge, Auburn to be prepared for flooding from the Forked Deer River in the next seven days.

Click here to see a list of flooded roads in the Heartland.

How to volunteer/donate/get help

Anyone wanting to volunteer for the flood fighting efforts, can call the Jackson County Volunteer Coordinator at 618-534-9212 Illinois. 

Other services and information available from:

SEMO Red Cross - 573-335-9471 local phone
United Way 211 - Dial 211 (or 1-800-385-6525)
Salvation Army - 573-335-7000 local phone
Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri - 573-335-0134 local phone

Five people killed in IL after flood waters sweep away car

A Kentucky couple and their three children headed to visit family in Minnesota have been identified as the weekend drowning victims caught in a rain-swollen southern Illinois creek.

Marion County Coroner Troy Cannon said the swift moving East Fork Creek carried the car off a low-water bridge near the town of Patoka, about 60 miles east of St. Louis, about 7:30 p.m. Saturday. It became lodged 150 to 200 feet downstream, but shortly after the first firefighter arrived on the scene, the car became dislodged and sank.

Cannon said dive teams recovered the car from the water several hours later and the bodies of the victims from the car.

Rescues

A Murphysboro couple is safe after being trapped in their home by high water with no way out. Jackson County sheriff's deputies and Murphysboro firefighters rescued them on Dec. 29.

Cape Girardeau firefighters rescued a man and his dog from his home on North Fountain Street on Dec. 30.

Ways to stay updated

Heartland News wants to remind viewers and drivers it is unsafe to drive through heavy amounts of flowing water on roadways. We urge everyone to take precaution during flash floods and severe weather.

Stay up to date with the latest weather by liking the KFVS Weather Alerts page on Facebook here or following us on Twitter here.

You can also search “KFVS” in your iOS/Android device's app store to download the KFVS News and FirstAlert Weather apps. For information on the apps, click here.

You can stay updated on other traffic issues and road closures at our Heartland road projects page or by visiting our weather page at kfvs12.com.

Stay tuned to Heartland News for the latest updates.

Download the KFVS News app: iPhone | Android

Copyright 2016 KFVS. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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