A large enough group of onlookers gathered to watch the city of Hannibal's five flood gates be installed Thursday afternoon that Street Department personnel, whose job it was to wrangle the gates into place, joked among themselves that a viewing fee should be assessed.

A large enough group of onlookers gathered to watch the city of Hannibal’s five flood gates be installed Thursday afternoon that Street Department personnel, whose job it was to wrangle the gates into place, joked among themselves that a viewing fee should be assessed.

Among the crowd of approximately 35 people was Cheryl Hudelson of Hannibal, who claimed a choice seat on the southern side of the levee at Broadway while her small, white dog, Zuse, stretched out in the clover.

“I think it’s interesting. This is the first time I’ve come down and watched it. It’s something that’s really neat to see,” she said, noting that previously her work shift at Watlow had prevented her from viewing the gates go in.

While Hudelson was a first time viewer, Rich Dauma, Street Department director, suggested he has been a part of the installation process maybe 100 times.

At the heart of the installation process is the crane operator, according to Dauma.

“This is a new crane operator, not a new company, and he’s doing a wonderful job. He’s very steady, very smooth,” he said.

Adequate manpower is another important part of the operation.

“I really wouldn’t want to do it with less than eight guys because there are other tasks that could be going on. When we’re actually moving the gate I want four guys on each side to steady the gate as they raise it,” said Dauma.

Shaving 30 to 45 minutes off the installation time Thursday was the presence of two flatbed trailers on which gates were hauled from holder to flood wall.

“This way he (crane operator) only has to set up one time to pick up both gates,” said Dauma. “When he comes over he can set both gates (without having to move again).”

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com .