Scott County officials not too worried about floodwaters; Commerce in little danger, mayor says

Thursday, June 19, 2008
AARON EISENHAUER ~ aeisenhauer@semissourian.com Flood waters rise on a field off Highway 74 between Cape Girardeau and Dutchtown. In Scott County the biggest concern from floodwaters is loss of farm crops.

BENTON, Mo. — Scott County officials are hoping this round of high water will flow on past without incident.

Joel Evans, county developer, discussed with county commissioners the county's chances for more flooding during the regular County Commission meeting Tuesday.

Evans said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had predicted a crest of only two feet below the crest during the flood in 1993 "which according to our model would cause significant flooding in Commerce."

Evans said there are also unsubstantiated reports of sand boils inside the levee south of Commerce.

"We've got some sandbags ready," Commissioner Ron McCormick said.

"The folks in Commerce aren't concerned," Evans said. "They think based on the Ohio River stages that they won't see significant flooding."

Evans said he would be going to Commerce after the County Commission meeting to meet with Commerce city officials and plot out where flood waters are expected to reach.

"I'll see what the battle plans are going to be, see if there really is going to be problem down there," he said.

"Right now we're cautious but optimistic," said Bill Bailey, mayor of Commerce, when contacted to discuss flooding concerns. "We should be covered just fine. I don't see an issue at this point."

Bailey said sandbags are still in place from earlier this year as the water "hasn't been down below Water Street for two straight weeks since March." Because of the federal buyout of properties following the flood of '93, "only one residence is threatened and that's already bagged," he said. "We're just waiting and watching."

The Mississippi River's crest is expected to go past Commerce sometime next week, according to Bailey. He said he anticipates a steady decline in river stages "provided we don't get any rain up north."

"The Ohio is a lot lower than in March which is what usually gives us problems," Bailey said. "Without water from the Ohio River keeping the Mississippi River waters back, high waters on the Mississippi should move on south without causing problems here," he said.

"I don't feel like we'll have any other home areas impacted," Presiding Commissioner Jamie Burger said. "Our biggest impact is farmland still under water not able to be planted."

Burger said he is concerned that rising seep water combined with localized rainfall could result in the county having as much water as it had March 17 when the county sustained flood damage.

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