Damage caused as river rose

Repairs have been made to a portion of the Hannibal floodwall damaged last month by an alleged vehicle-driving vandal.

The damage was caused in early October when the Mississippi River was on the rise. Someone driving a vehicle allegedly spun its tires on the levee after a heavy rain, leaving deep ruts in a section of the floodwall that is next to Warren Barrett Drive, across from the Admiral Coontz Recreation Center.

"We don't know who did it," said John Hark, Hannibal's emergency management director. "It was somebody being purely stupid. It is just too bad we have those sorts of people."

City Attorney James Lemon said anyone caught damaging the levee would be subject to Section 16-104 of the city code, pertaining to destruction of public property.

"If the levee were to fail as a direct result of destructive actions by someone, I believe charges would be appropriate under 574.080, causing a catastrophe," he said.

Hark said if those responsible were caught in the act of damaging the levee he "would push as hard as I could to have them prosecuted."

Hark said the tire damage did not put the levee at risk of failing during the recent flood, which reached a crest of 24.9 feet. It is considered a major flood in Hannibal when the river rises to 24 feet or higher.

"It would have worried me if we would have been fighting a major flood and it (tire damage) was on the outside (water side). But it was on the inside, the city's side of the levee, which makes it better," he said.

Whether it be tire ruts, groundhog holes or tree saplings taking root, Hark is on the lookout for anything that might weaken the levee that has protected the downtown area since 1993.

"Any kind of holes, or anything that shows we may have a problem, we try to rectify when the opportunity comes along," he said.

The dirt intended to fill the ruts was little more than mud after recent rains, which delayed the repairs. As of Wednesday, the ruts had been filled with dirt, re-seeded and covered with straw.

danny.henley@courierpost.com