Isolated flooding reported in area on Friday

Saturday, September 20, 2008
AARON EISENHAUER ~ aeisenhauer@semissourian.com A truck splashes through a few inches of floodwater that covers a portion of Main Street near the flood gate on Friday, September 19, 2008.

The tail end of Hurricane Ike teamed up with a cold front to continue affecting Southeast Missouri communities along the Mississippi River on Friday.

Flood water had crept over some roads in Cape Girardeau beginning in early morning, closing sections of roads near the downtown area. By 11 a.m., city public works officials had shut down traffic in 10 locations.

City of Cape Girardeau traffic operations manager Bob Kutak said residents should not be concerned. He expected no additional flooding in the city, since most of the flooded roads were in low-lying areas.

"Water is supposed to rise only a foot more, so this situation shouldn't be severe," he said. "The water should have receded by Monday."

The river level had reached 39.2 feet by 11 a.m. at Cape Girardeau. The National Weather Service predicted it would crest at 40 feet by this morning, two feet below what had been predicted Wednesday.

On Sept. 13, the river level was about 15 feet. But a stationary cold front and the remnants of Hurricane Ike passed through the area during that time, dumping seven to eight inches of rain in cities north of Cape Girardeau, overtopping levees and flooding hundreds of state and local highways and roads. River levels continued to rise as the excessive rainfall flowed further south.

"The cold front and Ike were the sole reasons for the sudden rise in the river," said Scott Truett, meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in St. Louis. "But we don't see any heavy rainfall that could bring rises back up to those levels anytime soon."

When the river level reached 38.4 feet early Friday, it was three times higher than the lowest point recorded this year — 12.83 feet Aug. 30. The record crest at Cape Girardeau is 48.49 feet on Aug. 8, 1993. The city's floodwall protects downtown Cape Girardeau to a river level of 54 feet.

The Themis Street floodgate was closed Tuesday, and the Broadway gate was shut Wednesday. No plans were made to close the Main Street levee, where water from nearby Sloan Creek had spilled onto several roads close by.

"We dodged a bullet," said Dick Knaup Jr., Cape Girardeau County emergency agency director. "The minor flooding we had was just a bump in the road, and everything should be about back to normal by next week."

Knaup said he expects Dutchtown, Mo., and Allenville, Mo., to escape without any flooding.

The only flooded area in Scott County was on Route E between Route N and Water Street in Scott City, according to Scott County emergency operations unit director Joel Evans.

"The speed of the rise of the water from the Mississippi River is what surprised me this time," Evans said. "On Thursday afternoon there wasn't much water on the road, and I woke up this morning to find a foot of water on the road."

bblackwell@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 137

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