Mississippi River reopening after floods

July 2, 2008 12:01:27 PM PDT
Transportation corridors opened over and on the Mississippi River Wednesday as floodwaters continued to recede at a rapid pace. Two bridges - one at Quincy, Ill., the other at Louisiana, Mo. - were scheduled to reopen on Wednesday now that floodwaters no longer lap over the bridge approaches. A highway reopened near Hannibal, Mo.

On the waterway itself, the Army Corps of Engineers was preparing to reopen three navigation locks that have been closed for several days.

At many places from Iowa south through St. Louis, the river was dropping at a pace of about a foot a day. Some residents returned home to assess damage in the neighboring towns of Winfield and Foley, two of Missouri's most devastated communities.

Rebecca Bauer was in no hurry to see what the floodwaters did to her home. It was among about 100 flooded on Saturday, a day after a levee broke at Winfield. The National Guard built a makeshift barrier around the homes, but it, too, was breached.

Bauer had no idea how much water got inside, how much damage there was, how much would be salvageable.

"I figure whatever's there, we'll take care of it," Bauer said.

The bridge reopening was especially good news in the town of Louisiana. The span's closure on June 15 forced people to drive 60 miles out of their way to get to the other side of the river.

Quincy has two bridges, and one remained open during the flood. Missouri 79 reopened south of Hannibal but was still closed in parts of Pike and Lincoln counties.

The flood forced the closure of locks at the Missouri towns of Clarksville and Winfield, and the Kaskaskia Lock near Chester, Ill. The corps plans to reopen the Clarksville and Winfield locks by Friday, and the Kaskaskia lock by Monday. Those plans are based on current forecasts and could change if unexpected rain should cause a rise in the river.

A few places are just hitting high-water marks. The river crested Wednesday in Cape Girardeau at 10.5 feet above flood stage, leading officials to shut a section of Missouri 177. The Mississippi was expected to crest 12.6 feet above flood stage in Chester, Ill., early Thursday. But no major damage is expected in either town.


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