Flooding fears on the rise in New Madrid, Mississippi Counties
May 13, 2011 at 1:29 PM CDT - Updated June 24 at 1:43 AM
MISSISSIPPI COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - Flooding fears are on the rise in New Madrid and Mississippi County once again with more rain in the forecast. This time they aren't worried about the river, but back water from St. John's Bayou now that the flood gates in New Madrid are closed.
They may not be able to drain all the water in St. John's Bayou but the Corp of Engineers is trying to stabilize the levels. They've brought in 5 pumps to do so. Each pump is working at full capacity pumping out 10,000 gallons of water a minute to try and keep the problem from getting worse.
"It's a critical time for us," said Terry Moore of East Prairie. "This rain may very well put water in East Prairie. We'd have to boat in and out."
"We could see it in my house if we get more rain," said Charles Moore.
Charles Moore lives not far from East Prairie. He fears for his home for the first time.
"You can see it rising every day," said Charles.
It's a new problem caused by what the Corp of Engineers calls unprecedented rainfall in this area and others around it. They're working with Mississippi and New Madrid Counties and the National Guard to try and control the problem.
"This has been a rapid effort to bring in high capacity pumping," said Major Joe Leahy.
With in a few days five pumps were brought in. Several came from Caruthersville after the threat of flooding diminished there when the crest fell short of predictions.
"You won't see the water levels drop dramatically but the water should remain status quo for the time being," said Mark Broughton with the Corp of Engineers. "We just want to maintain the levels so it won't overwhelm the system."
For real relief, the flood wall at New Madrid needs to open. Chris Burroughs with the Corp of Engineers says that will happen as soon as water levels on either side of St. John's Bayou and the Mississippi River are equal and pressure stabilizes.
"That could happen as early as Tuesday if we don't get any rain," said Burroughs.
Pumps will remain even after flood gates open until things get closer to returning to normal. Many people in East Prairie say they'd like to see pumps here permanently.
Meanwhile, water not only threatens farms and communities, but also a section of Interstate 55 near the East Prairie exit. Engineers say that water would have to rise another six inches before it would close the interstate. Representatives tell Heartland News they don't think that will happen.