Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Rising Mississippi River threatens Midwestern towns

A small Illinois town was evacuated this morning after a levee breach along the Mississippi River. About 50 people in Meyer, Ill., have had to leave their homes.

The evacuation order is likely not the last in Illinois or in neighbouring states. Towns along the Mississippi River were bracing for more floods Wednesday.

The Mississippi broke through a levee near Gulfport, Ill., Tuesday, covering about 5,000 acres in the region. The floodwaters got so dangerous for boats in the area, that officials used a helicopter to rescue at least three people.

The surging water in the town was just the latest in a spate of floods to hit the region over the past several days.

About 25,000 people left their homes in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, after floodwaters there rushed through large parts of the city, damaging buildings and water treatment plants throughout the region.

The rising Mississippi will likely threaten communities in several states for the rest of the week, leaving many residents on edge. Lois Russell, 83, a Gulfport resident, says he was forced out of his farmhouse after 57 years.

"What else am I going to do? Where else am I going to go," he asked.

Other communities are preparing to follow Gulfport's lead. Officials in towns along the Mississippi are considering evacuation plans and have bolstered defences against rising floodwaters. In Clarksville, Mo., the U.S. National Guard, students, inmates, and residents have been sandbagging around historic buildings and businesses to minimize damage.

However, the potential damage may not be as bad in this round of floods than in the past. Over the past few years, the federal government has bought out homes in some of the most vulnerable flood areas. But not everyone has sold their properties to move to higher ground.

The Mayor of Chelsea, Iowa, says residents in the area have learned to cope.

"For the most part, it's another flood," Roger Ochs said. "For Chelsea, it's more of an inconvenience

The National Weather Service fears the worst may yet be ahead for some communities along the Mississippi. Officials say the river near Canton, Mo., may reach 8.5 metres Thursday. That's four metres above the flood stage. Crests near the towns of Quincy, Ill., and Hannibal, Mo., are expected to be about 4.5 metres above the flood stage.

The flooding in eastern Iowa and surrounding areas has already caused US$1.5 billion in damages.

credited to

1 comment:

Chanelle said...

$1.5b in damages? wouldn't be living in a place like this.