The Mississippi River is rising rapidly, so only six days after all five floodgates were removed from Hannibal’s flood wall, they are going back in place today, May 27.
“The river is expected to reach 24.5 feet by Tuesday, June 4,” said John Hark, emergency management director in Hannibal and Marion County.
When the crest prediction is 20.5 feet or more, the floodgates on Hill and Center must be installed, and the remaining three - two on Broadway and one on South Main - are to be placed when the crest is forecast at 21.5 or more, Hark explained.
The June 4 crest prediction will probably change several times by then, he added. “I just go with the flow. ... Our crest could be up or down by tonight.
”That is what is expected by the fourth, but I have no idea what it will do. Between now and then we will have predictions by the National Weather, and it will change. I wish it would go down, but I don’t see that happening.”
At 3:40 p.m. Monday, May 27, the river level was 18.66 feet, showing a rapid rise since it had dropped to 16 feet on May 25.
This year the river’s highest crest was 26.91 feet on May 16, Hark said. The floodgates were installed on April 18 and were removed Wednesday, May 22, just in time for the Memorial Day weekend events in downtown Hannibal. The two-day Twain on Main festival was on Saturday and Sunday.
On Saturday evening, the Memorial Lantern Float was in Nipper Park, with the lanterns floated in the river.
Hark was glad the floodgates could be removed in time for these events, explaining, “it was a great opportunity. We saw the river down and it looked like it was going to continue to fall. We got them out in time for the Memorial Day weekend and we thought and hoped they would stay out. But the storms and rains came along and changed that.”
On Monday he learned that the Des Moines River in Iowa was “on the verge of coming out of its banks. ... That is part of the reason we are seeing this rapid rise in the river. It is close to us and every tributary coming out of Western Illinois.
“And the North Fabius and South Fabius are all going into severe flood stage,” he added, “so we have a lot of rapid water coming in, a short distance north of us.
“In Marion County, the North and South Fabius and North River are all under flood warnings. Some county roads will go under water. If you see water across the road, don’t drive through it.”
S. Main tree dumping
Page 2 of 2 - area to be closed
Also due to the rising river, either today, May 28, or Wednesday, May 29, the city will be temporarily closing access to the tree dumping area on South Main Street, which was opened after the May 20 storm.
On Monday afternoon, Hark said, “in the next 24 or 36 hours we will be shutting down the dumping area on South Main Street.”
After water is in this area, “we will not let people drive in there,” he said.
“This will slow us down all the way around on the brush cleanup,” Hark said. “Picking up the brush is going to be secondary, but we will get back to that. We just need to be patient and realize the extreme conditions we are working under.”