Weather events test towns, cleanup crews

Flood of 2019: I've totally made their lives miserable. I've been pestering them for months. Many had to evacuate their homes. Did you see that I shut down bridges and highways? They're totally exhausted because of me.

Derecho of 2019: Hold my beer.

As if the slow-motion onslaught of this spring-and-summer flood wasn't enough to handle, along came last week's straight-line wind storm, called a derecho, blowing over trees, damaging buildings and causing power outages. Worse, it dumped heavy rains causing more flooding problems, especially in Southern Illinois.

The Mississippi River is falling, but the towns and areas protected levees are inundated with seepwater that has no place to go but up from the ground. The Flood of 2019 is approaching records for duration. The Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge has been closed for the first time in history. Highways 146 and 3, raised several feet in the 1980s, have been shut down in places, cutting off Illinois from Cape Girardeau. That may also be unprecedented.

Meanwhile, the area is still recovering from the storm. Cities and communities are patching roofs, and clearing out debris. Jackson was particularly hard hit, and the city will scramble to get the park cleared of downed trees in time for the July 4 festivities. It was impressive to see responders jump into action. At one point the entire city of Jackson was without power. The linemen did a wonderful job getting power restored, working around the clock. Public works employees will be very busy in the coming weeks hauling away limbs and tree trunks.

The weather events have tested our responses. Officials are busy constantly monitoring the river, pumping stations and highways. A lot of manpower is involved keeping the public safe. We owe our public servants a debt of gratitude for their long hours and dedication.

The ground is simply saturated. The seepwater is the enemy now. And the river isn't expected to go down at a significant rate until July. There is a slight chance for storms Wednesday and Thursday. Let's hope Mother Nature spares us this time around.