Lake Wappapello waters threaten St. Francis

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

ST. FRANCIS, AR (KAIT & KFVS) -- Water from Lake Wappapello is now flowing over the temporary levee built last week next to the dam. Also the flood gates have been opened to allow more water to come out.

Vance Whaley from the St. Francis Drainage District says the flow will increase quite a bit.

Whaley, "The flow will go up from 15 Thousand to Twenty Thousand Seven Hundred to 23 Thousand." That's thousands of gallons a minute heading down the St. Francis to St. Francis.

Dale Moreland with Stoddard County Emergency Management says according to a trooper at the dam water started flowing over a 25 foot section around 2 a.m. Monday.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers informed the Stoddard County Emergency Management Agency around 11:20 p.m. that the water is rising faster than originally expected.

That will mean there could be flooding along the Saint Francis River below the Wappapello dam.

Those within the St. Francis River Watershed are asked to be aware and vigilant and to adhere to the guidance and direction of emergency officials.

Moreland urges residents within two or three miles of the Saint Francis River in western Stoddard County to be prepared for flooding.  He says those living southwest of Puxico, east of Fisk, and around Powe should especially be prepared.

"There are no evacuations at this time." said Moreland. 

Stoddard County EMA Director Kent Polsgrove says there are no new evacuation orders due to the Lake Wappapello flood.

At St. Francis there is no evacuation order but many are packing up and moving out in light of what the river might do.

Whaley, "Our flood level is 22 feet. Right now it's 27 feet expected to move to 29 feet. We expect the first of Wappapello's water to hit around 6 a.m."



In Missouri, Eric Fuchs, the director of Wayne Co. EMA, says the city of Greenville is flooded as water rises and has no where to go.  He says there were a few rescues overnight Sunday, but for the most part there has been no major safety issues.


Butler County Presiding Commissioner Ed Strenfel says there is a voluntary evacuation order for the Fisk and Qulin areas.

Those living near Hwy JJ and Hendrickson at the Black River are encouraged to evacuate in Butler County as well.

There is a shelter opening at 8 a.m. Tuesday at the First United Methodist Church at 500 North Main Street in Poplar Bluff.

There is a shelter open at the Lighthouse Christian Church on Hwy. 25 in Dexter.

Clearwater Dam is operating as it should at 90 percent flood storage capacity, according to the Emergency Operations Center set up at the Poplar Bluff Police Department.  As of 4 a.m. Monday, Clearwater Lake reached 563.1.  The rim of the spillway is 567.  Based on estimated rainfall runoff, Clearwater Lake could crest at 567.5 by Friday. 

The Army Corps of Engineers increased the release through the conduit at the spillway to 4,000 cubic feet per second at 7 a.m. Monday. The release may be increased to 9,000 cubic feet per second during the day.  That would be the largest released ever made at Clearwater, according to the Army Corps of Engineers.

The lake stage at Lake Wappapello as of 8 a.m. Monday was 398.28 and rising with a projected crest at 399.2.  The current outflow of the lake is about 15,000 cubic feet per second and is expected to increase to 23,450 cubic feet per second.  There are no problems with the dam as it is functioning as designed, according to the Poplar Bluff Police Department.

The increased release will put a lot of water downstream and flood several areas in Stoddard County.

Around St. Francis, Arkansas volunteers are pouring in to help residents pack up and move out on borrowed Semi Trucks and other trucks and trailers. Junior Haywood and I watched as they backed a U-Haul truck up to his house through nearly 3 foot deep water. Haywood who has lived near St. Francis since 1957 says this is the highest he can ever remember the water being. And, he said, it came up fast.

Haywood, "Saturday you could have come out of this driveway without a bit of trouble."

Further down stream the small town of Lester is already struggling with water from the St. Francis. I waded to a home where I was shown a car that already had pools of water on the floorboards both front and back.

Bobby Pyburn who owns the local grocery store says this is the worst it's been in a long time.

Pyburn, "We usually don't flood. In 79 it got worse than this." Pyburn says after the last big floods they made a big change to the store.

Pyburn, "We raised the floor 29 inches. So we should be above what I think it's going to get this time....It should."

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