Why did downtown Cape Girardeau flood?

Flooding in downtown Cape Girardeau

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - What caused the flooding near the river downtown in Cape Girardeau that left several people with vehicles inches deep in water?

All the rain in town rushed downhill to Water Street, and the City of Cape Girardeau’s Public Works Director said the storm overpowered their system the night of May 29.

Matt Kinder was out at dinner when the storm came in and things quickly turned chaotic.

“The water was lapping about up to right here and so my door jam’s right here,” he said. “Mass panic of people running out not knowing what to do. Cars stalling out.”

Kinder said the water came up to his knees outside of the Port Cape Girardeau restaurant, forceful enough to make him fall.

“And in my car I had a good two, three inches of standing water,” he said.

City of Cape Girardeau Public Works Director Stan Polivick said the flooding was not caused by a broken pump and nothing is wrong with the flood wall or levee.

“When it hits that hard that intense, all we can do it try to keep up. Last night for thirty minutes or so the system wasn’t able to,” he said.

The drains along Water Street collect the rain and send it to the pumping station. The pumps push out 80,000 gallons of water per minute. But sometimes there is too much water to handle.

“After that it’s up to mother nature as to whether it’s going to overload us or not,” said Polivick.

He said even the pump station flooded on Thursday night, May 30, from the rush of water.

“The rain came and it came fast, and it stalled out a few vehicles on Water Street," said Kinder.

According to Polivick, crews continuously monitor the pump station 24/7 when the river gets high.

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