Heavy rains and severe weather during the month of April and especially over the last several days have brought about the risk of “catastrophic flooding” in the Ohio and Mississippi river valleys.
The National Weather Service has issued flood warnings for Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana and Missouri and all areas along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. Flooding is also occurring in southern Illinois along the Wabash River, in western Kentucky along the Rough River and Green River, in southern and western Indiana along the White River and East Fork White River and in southeast Missouri along the Current River.
According to Beau Dodson of the Southern Illinois Weather Observatory, this flooding event may be the type of event that most people experience once in a lifetime, if ever and flooding may reach historic proportions. Some predictions are likening this flooding in some areas to the historic 1937 Ohio River flood that affected the region.
Several inches of rain have already fallen in the area and several more are still expected. Storms have brought excessive rain, hail, damaging straight line winds and even tornadoes to the regions under flood warning. Tornadoes over the past week have struck southern Illinois in Cairo, Massac County and Carmi. Towns along the rivers have already begun discussing evacuation plans. Residents in Shawneetown have been urged to evacuate the Ohio River town voluntarily and the town has been closed off to non-local traffic.
Cairo is expected to see the highest flood level (60 feet) in the town’s history and Paducah is expected to see level that are just under the highs of the 1937 flooding. Harrah’s Casino in Metropolis has closed due to flooding and several schools in southern Illinois and western Kentucky are closed.
In Kentucky, Livingston County residents living along the Ohio River have been ordered to evacuate by Wednesday, April 27 due to high waters. In Poplar Bluff, Missouri, police issued a mandatory evacuation of the southern part of the town on Monday due to flooding and failure of a levee along the Black River.
In my own area of southern Illinois, rising waters and swollen creeks are common sights. Roadways and bridges are under threat of high water and one rural road that runs across my family’s property is in danger of waters from flooded creeks overtaking the roadway. There is only one time I can remember the bridges in this particular spot on Saraville Road east of Marion, Illinois being flooded but it is likely that will happen before the rains stop later in the week.
My rain gauges are registering between four and five inches since Friday morning, April 22 and more rainfall is expected through this week, increasing the flooding to more dangerous levels.
Tamara L. Morris lives in southern Illinois.