With elevated flood threat, St. Clair County already filling sandbags

BELLEVILLE, Ill. - Illinois officials are putting out alerts to prepare for on-going flooding now and possible high water later in the Spring. St. Clair County officials are taking a proactive approach and already filling sandbags.

Workers in Belleville have been operating a sandbag filling machine, filling about six hundred bags an hour. There is no flooding now in the county but St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency Director Herb Simmons says officials are not being complacent about the threat of flooding.

“We’re going to get three to four thousand bags pre-filled this week and pre-staged,” said Simmons.

At a meeting with state emergency officials last week, county officials were told to get ready for minor to moderate flooding in the near future and maybe major flooding later in the Spring.

“They didn’t want to say on record that we’re going to reach those 1993 levels but they're looking at 45 to 50 feet at the gauge in St. Louis. If that happens, of course, we want to be prepared.”

That 45 to 50-foot flood stage forecast is for late April and early May. In the near future, with rain in the forecast for this week, one St.Clair County community, East St. Louis, is issuing a flood alert for the next week. The city is warning residents there could be Mississippi  River flooding that along and north of State Street as well as Bond Avenue and Riverpark Drive.

"We've sent out letters to all the communities in the county and emails to them telling them we're taking a proactive stance and that we will have these bags ready should the communities need them," said Simmons.

Flood stage on the Mississippi River is 30 feet at St. Louis. As of this writing, the river is expected to crest at 34.8 feet next Tuesday.

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