WEST ALTON, Mo. – Both the Mississippi and Missouri rivers are on the rise again. There’s a concern the two rivers could become one in northern St. Charles County, threatening people and property.
Rick Pender, fire chief for the Rivers Pointe Fire District in West Alton, is warning folks who are elderly or have health problems to evacuate soon. The entire West Alton community could be flooded by both rivers, making it tough for emergency crews to transport folks to hospitals.
“You cannot drive up to their house…we have to get a boat in the water or two boats in the water…it’s going to take us a long time to get to them,” Pender said.
Emergency management officials are keeping a close watch on the rivers in efforts to keep people in West Alton safe.
“Where the Missouri meets the Mississippi, those two rivers come together,” said Captain Chris Hunt, director of the St. Charles County Regional Emergency Management. “If that starts overtopping the levee, the rivers will connect sooner than they do at the confluence, which will affect a lot more people in the northern part of the county.”
Farmers in north St. Charles County have been sandbagging. They are trying to prevent what happened a few weeks ago when the Elm Point Levee failed and nearby soccer fields went under because of rushing floodwaters. Farmers have 800 tons of sand and 18,000 sandbags to fill. They put their ongoing operation into high gear Tuesday because of new flood forecasts. They said the levees have turned to pudding and now they have to be strengthened to take on more and possibly higher river water.
“These levees have already had water on them for some amount time they’re saturated their wet so basically they’re in a weaker state,” Pender said.
Sandbaggers are trying to protect hundreds of homes and 37,000 acres, some of that land is already planted with corn and soybeans.