The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Rising Mississippi River Crests Monday Morning

by Dessa Rodeffer, Quill Publisher/Owner

With an Emergency Management Flood Plan in place, Phase I of that plan is the only step that has been implemented according to Henderson County Emergency Director Coral Seitz, of Oquawka.

The crest for April came this Monday (April 25) at 5:45 a.m. at Burlington, IA (flood stage 15 feet) hitting 20.24 feet and then very slowly began falling by 1/20th inch Monday, and 1/10th inch Tuesday. It was slower going down than predicted, due to the recent rains.

Henderson County Board Chair Marty Lafary, who works closely with Seitz on the Emergency Management plan, signed the Disaster Proclamation, when the river reached 19 feet at Burlington. The proclamation is part of Phase I, and will be brought to the board for their approval. It is significant because it puts agencies on the alert that help may be needed from these agencies: Sheriff's Dept., Health Dept., Salvation Army, Volunteer Groups, Highway Dept., etc.

County Sheriff has teamed with volunteers from the county's ministerial alliance and began going door to door in the flood areas making a count of those living there and gaining contact information in case rising waters would cause need for them to be alerted. This will help them know how many adults and children are in harms way and those with special needs, etc. in case a levee should break.

"Much was by word of mouth, before," Seitz said, "when people learned they must get out." Officials want to make sure no one is left behind. They also are keeping better track of who is on the levee when the river is above 19 feet.

"No one is allowed on the levee except the list of designated people which was given to the Sheriff by Scott Walters and Larry Russell, levee commissioners," she said.

Seitz said the Sheriff does have the authority to arrest anyone who is on the levee and not on the approved list by the commissioners.

"The levees are safe and holding but with the rain and so forth, strange things can happen and we want everyone to be safe. We don't want to take things for granted and we will keep on our toes until the water goes down."

Seitz said the Drainage District commissioners are comfortable with how the levees are holding up at present, but they are being very watchful with the continual rain and slow falling of the river.

"The current is always strong," Seitz said, "and with the water high, you really notice it."

Seitz said some of those living in the flood area have moved out in campers or with relatives but those who are affected are on the river side of the levee. The majority who live there have elevated homes or cabins and commute by boat. Those in Oquawka have city water but many have their own wells and have to use bottled water in other places.

The National weather forecast is updated several times a day, so there are no guarantees. There are no predictions, just a constant watch.

Seitz said U.S. Congressman Bobby Schilling is planning on being at Eagleview Health Center in Oquawka at 2:15 p.m. Friday, May 6 for about 45 minutes for an update of our situation. Anyone can come and talk to their Congressman.

At the end of Schuyler Street Monday, April 5th, Oquawka's Main Street ends before the boat ramp into the river begins as the Mississippi River covers Frontage Road along the river side of the levee. The river at Gladstone Lock & Dam 18 reached 16.06 feet at 8:00 a.m. this Monday, 4.06 feet over its 12 foot flood stage. During the Big Flood of 2008, the river crested on June 17th at 22.46 feet at Gladstone before the levee broke south of Carthage Lake Club, in rural Carman putting many in danger. Henderson County has a plan in place today with safety first priority.