Flooding hits Thebes, Ill., but few houses affected

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

THEBES, Ill. -- Retired towboat captain Bob Wright has a bird's-eye view of the swollen Mississippi River from his stilt home, surrounded by floodwaters that have buried the town's riverfront park and dumped two feet of water in the basement of the Apostolic Lighthouse Church.

Besides Wright's stilt home, floodwaters have surrounded another stilt house that Wright rents out and a brick home.

But on Tuesday, there was no sign of panic in the town of 350 people.

Wright, who retired two years ago after a 35-year career as a towboat captain, said few homes are affected by flooding now. That's because the Federal Emergency Management Agency bought out several homes after the 1993 flood and tore down the structures, Wright said.

Wright said those who still live near the river are used to flooding. "Pretty much everybody here has gone through it before," said Wright, whose carport was close to being immersed by the rising river.

The river stood at 42.7 feet at Thebes on Tuesday. It is expected to crest at 46 feet on Sunday, 13 feet above flood stage.

Wright's not worried. He continues to boat to his house, which sits on stilts 12 feet above the ground. Wright estimated floodwaters are about 5 1/2 feet deep on his property. But Wright said that still leaves his house high and dry.

Jim Monahan, pastor of the Apostolic Lighthouse Church, keeps an eye on the rising river too. He doesn't want more water in the basement. "It's such a mess," he said. "It looks like an artesian well."

Monahan said the dirty floodwater has backed up into the basement through the sewers and is seeping in through basement cracks.

If the river continues to rise, water will start coming in the basement windows, said Monahan, whose church had 5 feet of water in the basement in the 1995 flood.

"I've caught fish off the church steps before," Monahan said of past floods, his boat temporarily docked only a few feet from the church steps.


335-6611, extension 123

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