Rick Eberlin | St. Louis Public Radio

Rick Eberlin

Xan Fredericks of the U.S. Geological Survey demonstrates the new flood preparedness and planning tool. The U.S. Department of the Interior developed the tool in response to this year's floods. Aug 1 2019
Nicolas Telep | St. Louis Public Radio

A new online data and mapping tool went live today, and its creators hope municipalities in flood-prone areas will use it to plan for and respond to natural disasters.

The Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative and the U.S. Department of the Interior created an electronic portal in response to this year’s near-record flooding. The MRCTI Imagery and Information Viewer aggregates maps, weather forecasts and up-to-date data on floods and droughts — all information necessary for cities to better plan for natural disasters.

May 29, 2019 Workers shore up a temporary levee across Main Street in Grafton. The river had reached 32 feet, on its way to a projected crest of 36.3 feet, which would be the second highest on record and less than two feet below the record set in 1993.
Brent Jones | St. Louis Public Radio

Towns along the Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois rivers have closed levees, evacuated downtowns and started sandbagging to hold rising floodwaters at bay. Weather experts say the communities will see some of the highest flood levels recorded since the Great Flood of '93.

Despite the flooding, some Missouri and Illinois towns remain open along the river — and their mayors said they hope tourism and community support will help their towns recover from the disasters.

Kaci Dalton helped residents fill sandbags on Starling Airport Road in Arnold in May 2017.
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Civic leaders along the Mississippi River are bracing for near-record flood levels in the coming days and weeks.

Mayors in Missouri and Illinois say federal programs that aim to prevent flood damage need more funding to adequately support river towns that face evacuation and income loss.

Flooding in Alton is expected to crest next week at 35.2 feet, the fifth-highest flood level on record, according to the National Weather Service. The river at Grafton is expected to reach the fourth-highest flood level on record for the city. River levels at both Illinois towns are expected to exceed levees and rise within 10 feet of historic levels reached during the Great Flood of ’93.