Long-time Grand Tower resident says wintertime flooding uncommon - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Long-time Grand Tower resident says wintertime flooding uncommon in area


As the water levels start to drop, many residents along the Mississippi and Big Muddy Rivers in southern Illinois are looking to the future and wondering what spring could mean following this historic wintertime flood.

Area historian Charles Burdick has seen a lot of floods in his lifetime. he even wrote a book on his hometown's history, that touches on how the Mighty Mississippi helped shape Grand Tower, but he said the New Year Flood is something of a new chapter.

"The Ohio River has flooded historically during wintertime," said Charles Burdick. "But this river here never had in my day, and I'm 83 years old."

Levels of both rivers near the small town, the Mississippi and the Big Muddy are dropping. While Grand Tower is not in the clear just yet there is a sense of relief among those who've been fighting the flood.

"We didn't get what they got in '93 mainly because of that break down there," said Grand Tower Mayor Mike Ellett referring to the breech in Alexander County. "We more or less dodged a bullet one more time."

Mayor Ellett knows dodging the bullet in this flood doesn't mean Grand Tower has escaped this dangerous game of river roulette for good. A weak spot in the Big Muddy River levee, if not repaired, could still cause problems if the water comes up again.

"I don't know what the contractor has planned, but I would hope they would fill this in with rock at least," said Mayor Ellett. "This spot is such a bad spot. They didn't even want us walking on it."

Just a few miles down Illinois Route 3 in Ware, farmer Mitchel McLane is slowly starting to move back into his farm shop.

"We're so relieved I can't describe it. We heard that the levee failed south of us, but that's what may have saved us," McLane said.

However, McLane fears this wintertime flood could mean the threat of high water forcing him out again if water comes up again in the spring.

"The levees are already saturated," said McLane. "The sand boils are opened up, and I don't know how long it takes them to seal back down. I worry about the reservoirs up north that are plum full. We're hoping for a dry spring, that's what we're hoping."

Burdick said he's also concerned about what this historic flood could mean for the future of Mississippi River towns like his.

"We'll just have to wait and see what spring brings," Burdick said.

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