Tuesday rain already set Cape record; Allenville, Dutchtown, Cape neighborhoods evacuated

Tuesday, March 18, 2008
LaCroix Creek overflowed its banks, reaching the edge of the Osage Center parking lot on Tuesday, March 18, 2008. (Aaron Eisenhauer)

Record amounts of rainfall are falling on Cape Girardeau.

Meanwhile the tiny villages of Allenville and Dutchtown are being evacuated. The evacuation in Dutchtown, which is voluntary, is happening due to the rising waters of Hubble Creek.

The rainfall recorded Tuesday at Cape Regional Airport set a 24-hour record for the most rain in Cape Girardeau since official record keeping began in 1960.

And more than seven inches of rain has fallen on downtown Cape Girardeau today, causing widespread flooding and the overflow of the city's stormwater retention basin.

A voluntary evacuation is underway in the Lakewood Estates neighborhood, according to information from the Cape Girardeau Fire Department, due to the threat of a spillway overflow.

At 4 p.m. the Cape Girardeau County Emergency Management Agency had reported 8.53 inches of rain in the county. Another 3 to 5 inches of rain is expected to fall, the agency says.

In all 9.5 inches had been recorded in downtown Cape Girardeau by the Southeast Missourian since 8 a.m. Monday. The measurement was taken at 4 p.m.

The county emergency agency reported four water rescues so far today, two in the Delta area, another on Highway 25 between Dutchtown and Gordonville and one on Highway 34 north of Burfordville.

A private pond has overflowed in the Snake Hill area of Cape Girardeau, causing a the evacuation of four homes, the emergency management agency reported.

The rain overflowed sewers, filled the La Salle stormwarter basin in northwest Cape Girardeau and sent public works and rescue crews scurrying to block flooded roads this morning, reported Steve Cook, assistant director of public works for the city.

"There is not much we can do about it," Cook said. "It needs to stop."

The storm is perhaps the worst widespread flooding since the city began constructing stormwater control basins and drainage systems, Cook said.Water was at the top of the walls lining Cape La Croix Creek, he said.

"I am seeing levels I have never seen before," Cook said.

By just after 11 a.m. water had begun to overflow the LaSalle retention basis for the first time in its existence, Cook said, calling the situation "crazy."

On Bloomfield Road, water was at the top of the drainage, threatening to overtop the bridge, he said.

The stormwater drainage system was "maxed out," Cook said. Every ditch in town was full or close to it, he said.

The areas of the city experiencing high water are the ones that regularly flood during heavy rains, Cook said, but the sustained heavy rain is straining the system.

The parking lot of the Osage Community Centre is partially flooded and water is near Perryville Road at Route W.

"We are seeing a lot of water, the forecast is not good and I encourage people to stay up out of the low levels, definitely," he said.

With several streets flooded, Cook said drivers should be extra careful. Police have responded to calls of stranded motorists throughout the day.

"It doesn't take much water to sweep a car off the road," Cook said.

What is being called a "flood emergency situation" continues in parts of Cape Girardeau and Wayne County, the National Weather Service is saying.

And an amount of water equal to what fell on those two counties has fallen over Bollinger County.

The heavy rain closed numerous streets in Jackson this morning, with so many flooded locations that the public works department ran out of barricades, said Sharon Raines, customer service representative for the department.

"We've got water everywhere and the debris isn't helping," Raines said, referring to the broken limbs and trees left over from the Feb. 11 ice storm.

Closings in Jackson included City Park; the 300 block of East Adams Street; North Farmington Road near the city limits; Rolling Fields Drive; West Main Street in the 500 block; East Independence Street at Highway 61 just north of city park; and the bridge at Sunset Hills near Brookside.

The department has fielded numerous calls for street and basement flooding, stream bank erosion and debris clogging storm drains, Raines said.

Crews from the electrical department and the water department have been detailed to help the street crews as they try to keep storm drains open and prevent motorists from entering high water, she said.

Creeks, streams and low-lying areas will likely continue to flood between now and Wednesday, according to a National Weather Service statement.

The heavy rainfall could also lead to river flooding following the storm. Drivers should be especially cautious. If you live in an area prone to flooding, you should be prepared to take action should flooding develop, the weather service warns.

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