As the National Weather Service continues to revise downward its predicted Mississippi River flood crest for Hannibal, John Hark, the city's emergency management director, found himself with tough decisions to make: whether to set the floodgates.
"I'm between a rock and a hard place trying to make this call," Hark said Friday morning. "I don't want to waste taxpayer money setting something that is absolutely not necessary. Nor do I not want to set them and all of a sudden have water coming up Broadway. I would not be a very popular person. It's kind of a tough call."
On Thursday, after the National Weather Service altered its predicted crest from 19.9 feet to 21.7 feet, Hark announced that all five of the city's floodgates would be installed Saturday afternoon. Since that time, the crest has been revised downward twice, initially to 21 feet and then Friday to 20.4 feet.
A crest prediction of 20.5 feet or more requires the gates on Hill and Center streets be set. The remaining three gates -—two on Broadway and one on South Main Street -—are placed when the forecast is at 21.5 feet or more.
According to Hark, a final decision on how many, if any, gates will be set won't be made until Saturday morning.
"I will talk to the National Weather Service again just before we start to set and see if it is going up, down or staying the same," Hark said. "Then I will make a decision."
Hannibal's floodgates were last set in December 2015.