Floodwaters still a problem at Buzzi Unicem

Monday, June 20, 2011

Although the Mississippi River has been dropping for weeks, flooding problems persist at Buzzi Unicem on South Sprigg Street in Cape Girardeau.

About two-thirds of the quarry is still underwater, said Steve Leus, plant manager. Its primary crushing machine is also underwater.

Portable crushers have been brought in and are being used at higher elevations so operations can continue.

A total of 14 diesel and electric pumps continue to force water out of the quarry. The level has been dropping at a rate of about 15 inches per day, Leus said.

This is the first time flooding has had such an effect on plant operations.

None of the plant's 170 employees were laid off as a result of the stop in production; instead they were used to help fight the water.

Until the river is back below flood stage, it will be difficult to determine how to prevent problems like this from happening again, he said.

"We're convinced the water is coming from the LaCroix Creek, when the river is up," Leus said. "Something has to be done either to the creek or to the walls of the quarry itself to slow this water down."

On Sunday, the Mississippi River was at 36.7 feet, still 4 feet above flood stage, and rising.

Flooding on the Missouri River and heavy weekend rains are expected to keep the river rising, with a crest of 39.5 feet coming Thursday.

"We're taking it one day at a time," Leus said.

n New restaurant: Baba's Famous Steak and Lemonade has opened in the former Gyro King location, 1929 Independence St. in Cape Girardeau. Baba's is a Chicago-based franchise specializing in Philly cheesesteak sandwiches and fresh lemonade in a variety of flavors. Gyros are also still on the menu, said Omar Daraghma, Baba's manager.

n SoutheastHEALTH recognized: SoutheastHEALTH has been named an American Heart Association Gold Start! Fit-Friendly Company, one of 123 employers in the Midwest to receive such recognition. The American Heart Association recognized SoutheastHEALTH in part for its employee wellness program rewards and incentives, employee walking program, free annual physical exams for employees and the availability of healthy food choices in hospital vending machines and the cafeteria.

Southeast Missourian business reporter Melissa Miller may be contacted at 388-3646 or mmiller@semissourian.com.

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