Record crests continue along Mississippi River | St. Louis Public Radio

Record crests continue along Mississippi River

May 5, 2011

Updated with Gov. Nixon's request for a disaster declaration.

The decision by the Army Corps of Engineers to blast the levee at Birds Point appears to have brought some relief to Cairo, Ill., but the possibility of record crests continues all along the Mississippi River.

The Ohio River at Cairo was at 59.57 feet at 1 p.m. Thursday, after reaching almost 62 feet on May 2. Forecasters call for the river to drop to 58 feet by next Tuesday. Cairo sits in the floodplain between the Mississippi and Ohio.

But in Caruthersville, Mo.,  forecasters are predicting the Mississippi River will crest Sunday at 49.5 feet - more than three feet above the 1937 record, and just a half-foot below the top of the floodwall that protects the community of 6,700.

Missouri National Guard troops are adding sandbags to the top of the levee and building earthen berms behind the floodwall to provide extra protection in case the wall is topped. The Mississippi is also forecast to break a record at Tiptonville on Sunday, and at Vicksburg and Natchez, Miss. later this month.

The ongoing flooding, plus tornadoes that ripped through the St. Louis area about two weeks ago, prompted Gov. Jay Nixon to request a  major disaster declaration from the federal government.  That would free up federal assistance for local governments and individuals.