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Despite Lengthy Flooding, Public Works And Army Corps Agree: River Is On Track To Recovery

Clayton Hester/KRCU

Current Flood Conditions In Cape Girardeau

Things are looking up, local experts say, and the water’s going down.

The river reached its peak stage of 46 feet on Monday, which means it rose 6 inches over the weekend, according to Cape Girardeau Public Works Director Stan Polivick. It’s estimated to fall today Wednesday, June 12th.

While flood stages often last only for a couple of weeks, Polivick says these conditions have remained for nearly 100 days.

“The big difference with this one, the unique characteristic is that it’s been such an extended duration,” Polivick says.

He says the river’s height is still below record levels and, although the mid-40’s are high, the measurement is “not particularly dramatic.”

Rural areas are often susceptible to rising creeks and other life-threatening road blockages, but Polivick says urban residents should also be aware of the dangers of driving through flooded streets.

“Even if you don’t get hurt, your vehicle could be damaged,” says Polivick. “And then you may need the police or fire department to come get you out of the water, which keeps them from doing other things.”

Once the river rises above the flood stage of 32 feet, public works crews in Cape Girardeau are stationed at two pump stations along the Mississippi “around the clock.” Polivick says they will likely be there until the end of June, when waters should recede to below flood stage. Crews will then return to their regular schedule of schecking pumps on a quarterly basis.

“We’re fortunate that even though this is a major flood level, the local impacts aren’t too significant, because most of the people who lived in the floodplain areas have been bought out or moved,” he says.


Credit Michael Watson/U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Geotechnical engineers check a relief well that was not flowing to see if its screens were clogged. The wells are controlled sandboils, designed to prevent flowing water from carrying material out from underneath a levee.

Across The Region


Mike Watson is with the Army Corps of Engineers in the Cairo area floodfight. They cover from the bottom of Alexander County, IL, to the Diversion Channel in Scott City, and to the confluence around Cape Girardeau.

“We really haven’t had any significant problems in our area primarily because after 2011, we’d done a ton of work putting in relief wells and slurry trenches,” Watson says.

They’ve spent nearly $30 billion in the last 8 years in Cairo and Charleston in improvements. But now, most of their work consists of patrolling and documenting sand boils where water pushes up from under the levee, and begins pouring out.


“The levees are considerably more enhanced in our area than what they were in 2011,” he says.

After they identify sand boils, they often create relief wells to control the outpour of water. Some of these popped up Monday along the Diversion Channel, and they had to sandbag a ditch to back up the water flow.

Meanwhile, in East Cape Girardeau, water has been collecting behind the levees. Without pumping stations, Watson says the only course of action is to wait until the waters recede.