By Beacon Staff
The Mississippi River will crest at 20 feet tonight (Tuesday, May 2) at about 7 p.m. and will stay just under that mark for the next week or so.
According to the National Weather Service, the swollen river won’t drop below 19 feet until May 9.
City crews installed flood wall extensions a week ago, which should be enough to protect against the swollen river’s current projection.
Nick MacGregor, assistant city manager for public works for Burlington, said crews are ready to install sand-filled flood barriers and sandbags if the river rises beyond the forecast. A ring of sand-filled barriers is currently sitting south of Memorial Auditorium.
“What we have set up right now is all we’ll need. If we were to go to 21 feet, we would need to put in the railroad gates. We’ve had a discussion with Burlington Junction Railway about that,” MacGregor said.
At that point, sandbags would be installed around the intakes and manholes along Front Street. HESCO barriers would also be installed on Market Street toward Main Street. Pumps would be installed in the basement of the Burlington Depot to evacuate water seeping up from the dirt floor.
MacGregor said the building wouldn’t need to be protected by sandbags unless the river projection jumps to 23 feet.
“I’m pretty pleased with what we’ve had going on. We’ve had some staff time with some pumping, but it’s not near as much as what we were expecting,” MacGregor said.
The 20.2-foot river crest is the highest the Mississippi has risen since the summer of 2019, when the river reached 24.47 feet on June 2.
Des Moines County Conservation Director Chris Lee told the supervisors that Sullivan Slough Road already has significant water over it, which happens at a river level of 16 feet.
“Tama Road has been underwater for quite a while,” Lee said.
Des Moines County Sheriff Kevin Glendening warned residents not to drive on the levees that hold back flood waters. He said anyone caught will be ticketed and likely arrested. Causing damage to the levee can impact its effectiveness against flood waters.
“If you see ATVs or UTVs on the levy, they are thereby permitted only,” Glendening said.
MacGregor said he try to secure drone photos of the crest for historical purposes since flooding along the riverfront had changed because of the flood wall.