By Mark Bliss ~ Southeast Missourian
DUTCHTOWN, Mo. -- The flood war continued on two fronts in Dutchtown on Wednesday as the Army Corps of Engineers, county highway department workers and volunteers continued building levees to hold back water from the Diversion Channel and Hubble Creek.
County highway crews worked on building up a makeshift levee that stretched across Route A and down the middle of old Highway 74, closing the Highway 25 intersection to traffic.
The crushed limestone levee stood about 4 feet tall on Wednesday afternoon. Army Corps of Engineers officials said about 3,500 tons of the rock have been used so far to build the Army Corps of Engineers levee.
Corps official Gary Moody said the levee would be raised another 2 to 2 1/2 feet. With more rain forecast this week and the Mississippi River expected to crest on Sunday at 47 feet -- 15 feet above flood stage -- Corps officials are expecting floodwaters to continue to rise at Dutchtown. The river gauge at Cape Girardeau registered 43.7 feet on Wednesday.
Moody knows how to build temporary levees at Dutchtown. "I've worked floods up here since the early 1980s," said Moody, who works out of the Corps' Caruthersville, Mo., office.
"This is about identical to what we did in 1995," he said as bulldozers smoothed out truckloads of gravel being added to the levee.
Four exposed homes
The levee, however, doesn't protect four homes on the south side of Highway 74. They remain surrounded by sandbags.
John Green watched the levee work from the front porch of his water-surrounded home, only accessible by boat.
"It doesn't do me a bit of good," he said of the levee, standing high and dry a few yards from his home.
Green continues to pump water out of his basement. "I'm keeping it pumped out pretty good," he said.
"I'm going to stay here until it runs me out," he said of the floodwaters from the Diversion Channel, which empties into the Mississippi River south of Cape Girardeau.
Several hundred yards away, about 40 volunteers from the Mid-America Teen Challenge drug treatment center piled 40-pound sandbags atop a grassy levee to help hold back the encroaching floodwaters from a swollen Hubble Creek.
"We're staggering them, like laying bricks," said Teen Challenge staff member Dwayne Tomlinson.
The group sandbagged for about 12 hours on Tuesday, working late into the night before returning to the task on Wednesday.
Delta schools were back in session after having been closed for two days because flooded roads made it impossible for buses to pick up students.
"The water was down this morning," superintendent Tom Allen said Wednesday.
Today is the final day of classes in the school district.
The flooded Diversion Channel turned Allenville, Mo., into an island on Monday and Tuesday. But by Wednesday, the water had receded enough that residents could get in and out on County Road 238.
"It's still on the edges, but you can go in and out real easy," said Allenville resident Fran Wolfe.
But she said heavy rains could quickly flood the road again. "We are still worried about that," she said.
Charlotte Craig, director of the Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center, said it's important for people to disinfect their flood-damaged homes.
"We just don't want people to complicate already bad situations," she said.
335-6611, extension 123