Poplar Bluff experiences flooding, county has issues as well

By Josh Harvison - bio | email

POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KAIT) – The city of Poplar Bluff is bracing for another round of precipitation Tuesday night after receiving more than 15 inches of rain in the past week. According to Jeff Rolland with the Poplar Bluff Police Department, more than 1,000 residents have been evacuated from a neighborhood in southeast Poplar Bluff, south of the Black River, east of Highway WW and north of Highway 53. Rolland said a levee on Butler County Road 607 was breached Tuesday morning, which flooded a large portion of the county and a smaller area of the city.

"We have areas in Poplar Bluff that are currently under water," said Rolland. "That's because the ground is saturated. The river is full, the storm systems are full, there's just nowhere for the water to go."

Rolland said officials rescued 59 people from their homes Monday night after a severe thunderstorm dropped another five inches of rain on the city.

Approximately 250 people are seeking shelter at the Black River Coliseum.

"When you have that much water for that long of a time, and that many locations where it's overrunning the top of it (30), it's only a matter of time before it compromises that levee. When it starts cutting into it, and once it does, that water pressure doesn't take long to have a catastrophic failure," said Rolland. "Fortunately for Poplar Bluff, that breach was further south of that 607 County Road. That spells bad news for Butler County because instead of that water coming around and into that neighborhood, it goes out into rural Butler County into that farm land and into those residents and individuals out there."

Just a few blocks from the police department headquarters, residents have been seeking shelter elsewhere. Tim Jay is one of hundreds of displaced residents who live in southeast Poplar Bluff.

"The rain just started coming in and flooded the area and the sewers and stuff started backing up," said Jay. "They had to bring boats and stuff to get us out."

Associated Press reports suggest the levee that was breached Tuesday failed an inspection following the 2008 floods.

"We were concerned about that levee. The Black River had overrun that levee in about 30 locations from Poplar Bluff to Qulin, Missouri," said Rolland. "We have approximately 23 businesses that have water in them now or had water in them."

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