Historic river levels updated on Cape Girardeau river wall

Historic river levels updated on Cape Girardeau river wall
(Source: Mike Mohundro/KFVS)
(Source: Mike Mohundro/KFVS)

MISSOURI AND ILLINOIS (KFVS) - Walk down to the Cape Girardeau, Missouri riverfront and you will find new river level markings on the wall.

The highest being the record breaking New Year Flood that occurred at the beginning of 2016.

Also on that list is the most recent Spring flood from 2017. It ranks as the fifth highest level.

Look at all the marks and you will see that four out of the seven highest have occurred within the last six years.

Each of these high level marks represent a lifestyle change and struggle for many that were affected by the floodwaters along the Mississippi River.

The 1993 flood caused millions of dollars in damage. It caused levees to break in multiple Heartland counties including the Lens Small Levee in Alexander County. This flood also devastated Kaskaskia Island, Il, and Commerce, Mo.

The record breaking 2011 flood caused millions in damage as well. It caused the same levee in Alexander County, Il, to break again resulting in major flooding and damage in many towns including Olive Branch and Miller City. Damage was reported along both the Ohio River and Mississippi River.

This flood was the highest on record for the Ohio River. The U. S. Army Corps of Engineer activated the Bird's Point Levee causing many homes, including those in Pinhook, Mo., to be washed away in efforts to save the towns of Cairo and other communities along the Ohio River.

Theresa Marshall of Sikeston, Mo said seeing the river levels reminds her of what the floods could have been if the wall was gone.

"We would drive down Broadway just to see what the level was on the floodwall," Marshall said. "And it was pretty amazing to realize what the floods would be if the wall wasn't here."

The record New Year Flood in 2016 caused damage both in Missouri and Illinois. Those floodwaters caused three levees to break in Ste. Genevieve County, Mo, Alexander County, Il and in Scott County, Mo. Much was devastated along the Mississippi River. Floodwaters even surpassed the roofs on some structures.

Spring flood '17 mainly affected Miller City, Il, due to the Lens Small Levee not being repaired. However, the rain that swept across Missouri led to this flood event on the Mississippi River and caused record breaking levels for several rivers in the Southeast Missouri area.

These levels rose roughly nine feet higher than the previous record. This caused devastating flooding in Van Buren, Mo, Doniphan, Mo, Poplar Bluff, Mo and others.

Jim Maurer from Cape Girardeau, Mo said he is glad the river wall is there for protection.

"We like to come down and see the river and we just enjoy the downtown area," Maurer said. "So we hate when the doors get closed but we know it's protecting the area so there's nothing we can do about it. But I do remember it and it's just a part of life here living on the river though."

Water caused several structures to float off their foundation in these areas. The rain also caused flooding to hit high levels for Wappapello Lake and Clearwater Lake resulting in an overflow that washed out highways.

People we talked with have their own memories of what happened during those flooding times, whether they were affected by the water or merely just seeing the damage caused it in their communities.

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