Mississippi River breaks record at Caruthersville, still rising

Published: May. 4, 2011 at 4:27 PM CDT|Updated: May. 5, 2011 at 5:48 AM CDT
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A residents packs everything he owns in case water breaks banks.
A residents packs everything he owns in case water breaks banks.
River stage Tuesday afternoon.
River stage Tuesday afternoon.

By Josh Harvison - bio | email

CARUTHERSVILLE, MO (KAIT) – The Mississippi River in Caruthersville broke a record Wednesday, as the river rose above 46.0 feet, a previous record made in 1937. However, the river isn't finished rising. According to the National Weather Service, the Mississippi River at Caruthersville is expected to crest Sunday night at 49.5 feet, six inches below the top of the flood wall.

"The river level has come up somewhat and still it's supposed to be rising from Wednesday up until Sunday at 49.5," said Charlie Jones, Caruthersville Fire Chief. "14, 15 to 20 inches have fell up north and not only in our county but up north. It is a big concern and that's the reason all the rivers and lakes and creeks and streams are full and they're full all the way up to the Kentucky dam."

The Missouri National Guard continued work on a retaining wall to run along the side of the flood wall. Men and women with the HHC, 1140th Engineer Battalion out of Cape Girardeau, 220th Engineer Company out of Festus and 880th Engineer Team out of Perryville were on site Wednesday. The work is expected to continue until the weekend.

Click here to track the Mississippi River as it rises.

"As of right now, everybody just keep on going with your daily business as far as I'm concerned. We've got it covered as of right now, of course it's subject to change," said Sgt. First Class Eric Richardet. "There's always a challenge when you're dealing with soft soil. Basically we're going to go down and lay down a layer of gravel first, that way our equipment can move."

Several residents were helping fill sandbags and building retaining walls throughout the city. Employees and volunteers worked to place sandbags around the Hays grocery store in case the Mississippi River bursts its banks.

"We just want to be prepared in case we have to move real quick, then we get a lot of it done today," said Assistant Manager Glenn Thomas. "We started Saturday. We brought in 1,000 sandbags Saturday and then we started real heavy on it again yesterday, bringing in more trucks sand and stuff like that."

Richardet said the National Guard can handle the river if it only gets up to 49.5 feet. The retaining wall is designed to catch water that splashes over the 50 foot flood wall. Troops will then use a pumping system to bring the water back into the river.

"I've been here 59 years and this is the first time I've ever seen all the gates closed and the preparation going on and never ever would I have thought that the possibility of water coming over this wall would ever exist in our community," said Jones. "If the national weather service along with the corps of engineers predicts that the flood stage would be above 50 feet, that's whenever we'll take action."

Jones said many residents have been asking if they need to evacuate. Jones said while no evacuation order has been given; it could if the river forecast is changed to show it'll rise above 50 feet.

"There has been a lot of community involvement here and we're very appreciative of that. And everybody is in this flood fight together," said Jones.

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