In anticipation of a flood, “animals” could be seen gathering inside the Admiral Coontz Recreation Center’s gym on Thursday afternoon. They were not awaiting an ark, but a ride to the Street Department where the archery targets will be stored until the Mississippi River eventually recedes.
Moving items from the river’s reach did not bother Andy Dorian, director of the Hannibal Parks & Recreation Department.
“We’re so used to this,” he said. “We got kind of spoiled last year because we did not have to evacuate. I think this is like the sixth or seventh time I’ve evacuated the armory in six years.”
Some items were being moved to the old armory’s second floor.
“We had the court workers down here today moving like the supplies, that’s all upstairs,” said Dorian. “A lot of stuff is already upstairs. Most of the recreation stuff we had up there anyway in preparation, knowing that this could happen.”
Bigger items were being transported down Warren Barrett Drive to the Street Department.
“Leon (Wallace, Street Department superintendent) has been great clearing out space for us to put our horseshoe pits and archery targets. Everything should be high and dry. That’s a good thing,” said Dorian.
The upcoming flood will put a coating of mud inside the recently renovated rec center.
“It shouldn’t make a difference,” said Dorian. “We did our renovations with flooding in mind so really we just come in with a hose and hose everything down. Usually we’re operational in a couple of days after a flood.”
Higher crest forecast
In a day’s time the Mississippi River’s crest had been elevated from 25.3 feet to 27.9 feet. The projected crest will occur early Sunday afternoon.
If that crest is achieved it would be Hannibal’s fourth highest flood in recorded history, eclipsing the current No. 4 crest of 26.91 reached on May 16, 2001.
The river was already rapidly rising on Thursday, when the city’s five flood gates were installed.
“We’ve been monitoring it real close all day today and we’re rising a foot about every three hours,” said John Hark, the city’s emergency management director.
Hark does not anticipate having to put sandbags atop the flood wall, as happened in 2008 when the river crested at 29.54 feet on June 18.
“Not at this point,” said Hark. “We’ll know more between 11:30 and 12:30 tomorrow if they’re going to adjust in either direction. We may get another projected crest.”
Page 2 of 2 - Hark has already declared a state of emergency for the city of Hannibal and Marion County because of the anticipated flood.
“If we have to go into a full-fledged fight, we’re ready to do that,” he said.