Share

Cautious Relief in Midwest as River Levels Fall

April 29, 2013

Hardin, Ill.

Hardin, Ill.

A pickup truck was left parked too long near the Illinois River on the north side of Hardin, Ill., in Calhoun County, and was quickly being submerged Thursday, April 25, 2013. (AP Photo/The Telegraph, John Badman)

  • Hardin, Ill.
  • Moorhead, Minn.
  • Kampsville, Ill.
  • Fulton County, Ill.
  • Beardstown, Ill.
  • Mason County, Ill.
  • Alton, Ill.
  • Peoria Heights, Ill.
  • Hardin, Ill.
  • Dutchtown, Mo.
  • Spring Bay, Ill.
  • Grand Rapids, Mich.
  • Peoria, Ill.
  • Barstow, Ill.
  • Barstow, Ill.
  • Grafton, Ill.
  • Moline, Ill.
  • Clarksville, Mo.
  • Clarksville, Mo.
  • Clarksville, Mo.
  • Clarksville, Mo.
  • Louisiana, Mo.
  • Clarksville, Mo.
  • Clarksville, Mo.
  • Chillicothe, Ill.
  • Chillicothe, Ill.
  • West Lafayette, Ind.
  • Utica, Ill.
  • Utica, Ill.
  • Peru, Ill.
  • Marseilles, Ill.
  • London Mills, Ill.
  • Ottawa, Ill.
  • Quincy, Ill.
  • Quincy, Ill.
  • Grand Rapids, Mich.
  • Lafayette, Ind.
  • Lafayette, Ind.
  • Fort Wayne, Ind.
  • Burlington, Iowa
  • New Lenox, Ill.
  • Zionsville, Ind.
  • Zionsville, Ind.
  • Zionsville, Ind.
  • New Lenox, Ill.
  • Edgerton, Wis.
  • Edgerton, Wis.
  • Newville, Wis.
  • Grand Rapids, Mich.
  • Grand Rapids, Mich.
  • Cedar Creek Township, Mich.
  • Peoria, Ill.
  • Roanoke, Ill.
  • Geneseo, Ill.
  • Plainfield, Ill.
  • Burlington, Iowa
  • Clarksville, Mo.
  • Clarksville, Mo.
  • Battle Ground, Ind.
  • Lisle, Ill.
  • Lisle, Ill.
  • West Peoria, Ill.
  • Vermont, Ill.
  • Chicago
  • Chicago
  • Lisle, Ill.

PEORIA HEIGHTS, Ill. -- Slowly retreating floodwaters gave Midwesterners some hope Wednesday that the worst was over, but many worried that the earthen and days-old sandbag levees along the Illinois and Mississippi rivers could still fail.

Fast-moving currents were testing makeshift protections around Dutchtown, Mo., where the Mississippi was expected to rise well above flood stage later this week and potentially send water into the scattered homes and businesses that comprise the tiny, unprotected river town.

In downtown Peoria, Ill., tens of thousands of white and yellow sandbags stacked 3 feet high lined blocks of the scenic riverfront, holding back Illinois River waters that already reached a 70-year high and surrounded the visitors' center and restaurants in the 114-year-old former train depot. Across the street, smaller sandbag walls blocked riverside pedestrian access to the headquarters of heavy equipment maker Caterpillar and the city's arts and culture museum.

(MORE: Is Your State the Most Stressed?)

Despite the receding water, city leaders were reluctant to issue an all-clear.

"I'm very pleased so far, but we're not out of the woods," Peoria City Manager Patrick Urich said. "The water's going to stay up for a while."

Higher water levels over extended periods of time put significant pressure on levees regardless of how well they're built. Sandbag walls are particularly vulnerable because of their porous nature, and concerns persisted along the Mississippi River in southeast Missouri, where smaller levees had been overtopped or breached.

Elsewhere, there were no reports of other significant Midwestern population centers in peril, but high water bedeviled business and home owners who are assessing the damage across multiple states.

- About a dozen northern Indiana homes were condemned and as many as 200 were damaged by flooding in Kokomo after downpours pushed the Wildcat Creek to its highest level on record. Residents took to the streets in canoes, and some people had to be rescued from their vehicles.

-Hundreds of evacuated residents began returning to their homes in western Michigan as the rain-swollen Grand River began receding.

(MORE: Extreme Drought to Extreme Flood in Midwest)

-Officials in Fargo, N.D., are considering scaling back flood protection efforts after the National Weather Service on Wednesday lowered the crest prediction on the Red River by a couple of feet. The crest late next week in Fargo and Moorhead, Minn., will likely range between 38 and 40 feet. The river overflows its banks at 18 feet, but most structures are protected to about 38 feet.

In Peoria, citywide damage estimates are murky and could be sorted out in about a week once flood-affected businesses weigh in on their losses, Urich said.

Up to 20 homes sustained damage, though much of downtown was spared by what he called lessons from floods past: Water Street, which runs along the riverfront, was raised years ago to form more of a barrier between the river and the central business district.

The city's museum and a Caterpillar visitors' center opened last October and together cost $150 million. Both tourism attractions were built on intentionally elevated ground - again out of flood concerns - and weren't harmed by the latest inundation.

"Being as proactive as we were, we mitigated what could have been severe damage to some of those properties," Urich said. "That would be an awful lot of water to be sitting inside someone's business."

(PHOTOS: China's Rainbow-Colored Cave)


Featured Blogs

June 2014: Earth's 3rd Consecutive Warmest Month on Record

By Dr. Jeff Masters
July 24, 2014

June 2014 was Earth's warmest June since records began in 1880, said NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). NASA rated June 2014 a bit cooler: the 3rd warmest. According to NOAA, the planet has now had three back-to-back warmest months on record--April, May and June of 2014. Global ocean temperatures during June 2014 had the greatest departure from average of any month in recorded history.

Warmest Days of the Year for the U.S.

By Christopher C. Burt
July 9, 2014

NOAA recently produced an interesting map showing when the hottest day of the year is likely to occur in the contiguous U.S. Complimenting this map is one produced by Brian Brettschneider of Borealis Scientific, LLC, which illustrates the date of summer’s midpoint (peak of summer average temperatures) which was reproduced in my blog posted last August. Brian has also produced maps of such for the Fall, Winter and Spring seasons. There is also some other great material from Brian herein.

Live Blog: Tracking Hurricane Arthur as it Approaches North Carolina Coast

By Shaun Tanner
July 3, 2014

This is a live blog set up to provide the latest coverage on Hurricane Arthur as it threatens the North Carolina Coast. Check back often to see what the latest is with Arthur. The most recent updates are at the top.

Tropical Terminology

By Stu Ostro
June 30, 2014

Here is some basic, fundamental terminology related to tropical cyclones. Rather than a comprehensive and/or technical glossary, this represents the essence of the meaning & importance of some key, frequently used terms.

2013-14 - An Interesting Winter From A to Z

By Tom Niziol
May 15, 2014

It was a very interesting winter across a good part of the nation from the Rockies through the Plains to the Northeast. Let's break down the most significant winter storms on a month by month basis.

What the 5th IPCC Assessment Doesn't Include

By Angela Fritz
September 27, 2013

Melting permafrost has the potential to release an additional 1.5 trillion tons of carbon into the atmosphere, and could increase our global average temperature by 1.5°F in addition to our day-to-day human emissions. However, this effect is not included in the IPCC report issued Friday morning, which means the estimates of how Earth's climate will change are likely on the conservative side.