Gravity drains open to flush out floodwaters in Alexander County, Ill.

Gravity drains flush out floodwater in Alexander County, Ill.

EAST CAPE GIRARDEAU, Ill. (KFVS) - The Mississippi River is low enough crews in Alexander County, Illinois are now starting to open gravity drains to help flush out the flood waters.

Five out of seven gravity in drains are now open and will provide some much needed relief to flooded parts of East Cape Girardeau and McClure, Ill.

Renee Kennedy has lived in East Cape for 32 years and says they need relief from the flooding now more than ever.

"I would be so happy to see the water go down and to be able to live normal again," she said.

Kennedy is excited that gravity drains are now helping push out floodwaters in Alexander County.

After a sandbag wall breached Kennedy says three feet of water was surrounding her East Cape Girardeau home.

“It’s been very frightening to see it come up around the house and have it lap waves all night long,” Kennedy said. “You feel like you’re on a ship, but I’ve always had that faith there was a higher being right there making sure it didn’t come into the house.”

Randy Colyer is the levee and drainage commissioner for East Cape Girardeau and McClure.

He says the gravity gates have been closed for four months because they had to wait for the river to drop below 38.5 feet on the Cape flood gauge.

Officials in East Cape measured Friday July 12 and say the water has not gone down yet but Colyer hopes that will soon change.

"As the river continues to drop we'll see a faster discharge of the water back into the river," Coyler said "Right now we are fairly close from side to side. If the river would go down two feet you would see a big change on the inside in just a matter of days, but now it's got to get there first."

Colyer says the two other gravity drains that are still closed will open in the coming days.

For now Kennedy is still biking across the flooded portion of Route 146 to run errands and is glad the end is in sight.

“I’ve been across. I’ve got groceries," Kennedy said. "I have everything I need in the house. I am under air conditioning. I am going to see this through until the water goes down.”

Crews are also keeping an eye on Tropical Storm Barry and say anymore rain will slow the process down.

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