Radar survey finds voids under streets in New Madrid, Mo.

New Madrid underground voids

NEW MADRID, Mo. (KFVS) - A city dealing with sinkholes in the Heartland is using radar technology to discover other issues below its streets.

After this year’s historic flood caused sinkholes in New Madrid, Mo., city officials wanted to investigate further and see if there were other streets or sewer lines in need of repair.

“When we discovered a large sinkhole on Mill street here in town, it was the size of a large truck. That really strengthened our case in getting a radar system in to see what was just down the road or what was in other areas of town,” said City Administrator Richard McGill.

In September 2019, Ground Penetrating Radar Systems did multiple passes on each street in New Madrid.

McGill said they found more than eight sinkholes before the survey and for months most of them have been temporarily filled with gravel.

McGill says the $15,000 dollar survey will allow them to make more permanent repairs and keep citizens safe.

“We never want to see anybody hurt. We never want to see damage to other people’s property," McGill said. "The benefits far outweigh the cost. To be able to go in now and fix things without having bigger issues down the same road is a big relief.”

There were also some unexpected findings with the radar survey in New Madrid.

The busy intersection of Davis Street and Kingshighway may not look normal, but the survey found a six-foot void beneath the surface.

“It’s probably a leaking storm drain. It’s not at risk of failing in but if we leave it unattended and in some time, there could be a bigger issue," McGill said. “There are other parts of town where there are some minor issues and it gives us an idea of things to look for, things to watch, and basically keep our water and sewer services, keep the streets open and again have peace of mind that there aren’t going to be issues popping up later on.”

McGill said the city is applying to get some reimbursement money from FEMA for the large radar survey.

“It also provides evidence to FEMA, this is what we’ve got. This is the damage that was already there,” McGill said. “Moving forward if there is a flood next year or the year after that future flood, we can present this information to FEMA to show that anything else would be new damage.”

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