When the Mississippi River was on the rise, the Hannibal flood wall overlook was a hub of activity. Now that the river level is falling, on Tuesday afternoon Alicia Weir of Palmyra had the area all to herself.
“It’s a good hideout. It’s peaceful,” said Weir, looking up from the book she had been reading.
An employee at The Loft on North Main Street, Weir frequently hikes up to the lighthouse on her break.
“The next day my legs hurt,” she said with a smile. “This is my first time here (flood wall overlook). It’s very nice. I’ll have to come here more often.”
Traffic will be picking up later in the week on the riverfront after the flood gates are removed. John Hark, emergency management director for Hannibal, hopes to have all five gates removed Thursday.
“It depends on what (river) level I’m at. It could be Friday at the latest,” he said.
Rainfall of up to 4 inches is forecast later in the week in Iowa. That may factor in Hark’s decision on when to pull the gates.
“I’ll talk with (the) National Weather (Service). If they’re going to get another 4- or 5-inch rain in Iowa and across northern Missouri and western Illinois, now that’s going to effect us. But if it’s just up in Iowa it’s going to take it a while to run out and come down here. It takes quite a bit to make the river stop falling, stand still, turn around and start rising,” he said.
Interest is growing to have the gates removed. They were installed April 18.
“You get pressure every time you put them in and get pressure to pull them out,” said Hark. “I have criteria I do it all by. Until I’ve got a direction from our (city) manager or council members, I’ll stay with the criteria. So far they have never put me under any pressure except do what I feel is right.”
After cresting at 27.63 feet on April 21, the river has steadily been dropping.
“We have another nice day today for it to really drain out,” said Hark. “Every day that goes by that we don’t get a lot of rain and moisture that’s going to be running off into that Mississippi is just a plus for me right now.”
The river has dropped sufficiently that cleanup is in full swing at the Admiral Coontz Recreation Center, according to Aron Lee, supervisor of the Hannibal Parks & Recreation Department.
Page 2 of 2 - “We’ve actually been working hard on it. I think the water was out of it about Saturday,” he said. “We started Monday morning cleaning it up. We were in there all day today (Tuesday) as well. I think the majority of it we have cleaned up right now. Now we’re just doing the fine-tuning to finish up the cleaning. We should finish up I hope by the end of the week.”
Despite the fact water in the rec center reached 4 feet, no damage was noted.
“It is basically what we expected to see,” he said. “The rehab we did to the building made it better prepared for things like this.”
Earlier in the week, Hannibal Cavemen General Manager John Civitate reported that no more than 2 inches of water made it into the Clemens Field clubhouse and the building’s cleanup was essentially complete. The cleanup in the concession stands, where water reached an estimated 7 feet deep, was expected to take longer.