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Floodtown, Illinois

Thursday, Jun 6, 2019

* Many of us vividly remember the devastating 1993 floods. Grafton residents are once again battling high waters

Governor JB Pritzker paid a special visit to Grafton on Tuesday and announced he has activated an additional 200 Illinois National Guard soldiers for State Active Duty to engage in the state’s active flood fight along the Illinois and Mississippi rivers.

This came as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers confirmed an overtopping at the Nutwood Levee, which forced the closure of Illinois State Route 16 at the Joe Page Bridge near Hardin. In all, more than 400 guardsmen are reinforcing the state’s efforts to fight raging floodwaters as more precipitation takes aim on river communities.

Task Force 2 (TF2) is made up of approximately 200 soldiers supporting flood operations in the Metro East area of Illinois. The soldiers of TF2 are drawn from the 233rd Military Police Company based in Springfield, 933rd Military Police Company based in Fort Sheridan, 1844th Transportation Company based in East St. Louis, and the 709th Medical Company from Bartonville, Illinois.

* Zero disrespect is intended here. Real people are dealing with very real hardships right now. But here’s a little context…

* February 2018: Grafton isolated after flooding closes Great River Road

* March 2017: Grafton gets ready for major flooding

* July 2015: Grafton restaurateurs: the town has flooded, but we’re still open

* April 2013: Grafton Preparing To Be Cut Off By Rising Rivers

* June 2008: As the floodwaters moved south, the Mississippi River produced near-record flooding from Canton, MO to Clarksville, MO with major flooding also reported at Grafton, IL and Chester, IL.

* 1973: Flooding began in July and when it receded in November many structures (businesses and residences) were damaged, 22 of them so seriously that they were removed. After fighting the flood for 5 months, some residents left town, but most rolled up their sleeves and began the process of cleaning up and rebuilding

* June 1903: The Mississippi north of the mouth of Missouri is rising more slowly, owing to the numerous breaks in the levees above Hannibal, but will continue to rise, and a stage of 24 feet will be reached at Grafton by Saturday night.

* 1844: The water was so deep that steamboats moored in Jersey and Distillery Hollows and a bridge was built over the area now known as The Grove Memorial Park

- Posted by Rich Miller        

25 Comments »
  1. - Gruntled University Employee - Thursday, Jun 6, 19 @ 2:16 pm:

    The 1993 flood was the inspiration for the Son Volt song Tear Stained Eye on the Trace album.


  2. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jun 6, 19 @ 2:16 pm:

    ===inspiration for the Son Volt song Tear Stained Eye===

    And “Get Down, River” by the Bottle Rockets.


  3. - Gruntled University Employee - Thursday, Jun 6, 19 @ 2:20 pm:

    “Looks like the Gulf of Mexico down by the Texaco”


  4. - Anon - Thursday, Jun 6, 19 @ 2:21 pm:

    Pritzker’s and the legislature’s next major action absolutely has to be a climate change mitigation plan.


  5. - Answers - Thursday, Jun 6, 19 @ 2:26 pm:

    Anon - Thursday, Jun 6, 19 @ 2:21 pm:

    There is a historical pattern. This is not climate change


  6. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Jun 6, 19 @ 2:27 pm:

    There is such a need to prepare and build the infrastructure to handle this new normal, regular flooding. This is where a trillion dollar federal capital bill could come in handy. And the feds need to referee the various state disputes about levees and channeling and force a plan that prepares the center of the country to co-exist with 500 year floods happening every 5 years or so.

    It’s probably too late to stop climate change, but we better get serious about managing its effects. Some of that great fertile bottom land is going to become permanent wet lands. We can’t change nature, but we can adapt.


  7. - nadia - Thursday, Jun 6, 19 @ 2:39 pm:

    The increased frequency can certainly lead one to believe it’s due to climate change.


  8. - Not a Russian Bot - Thursday, Jun 6, 19 @ 2:40 pm:

    @ Answers. What is the historical pattern you see that proves climate change is not involved in the repeated flooding along the Mississippi River?


  9. - Skeptic - Thursday, Jun 6, 19 @ 2:41 pm:

    “It’s probably too late to stop climate change” Especially if we do nothing and deny that it’s real.


  10. - RNUG - Thursday, Jun 6, 19 @ 2:50 pm:

    The floods are partially man made, but it is more about eliminating flood plains and wetlands and building levees that channel the water higher and faster.


  11. - JT11505 - Thursday, Jun 6, 19 @ 2:54 pm:

    Forget the flood talk, I just found my retirement home - Distillery Hollows.


  12. - City Zen - Thursday, Jun 6, 19 @ 2:55 pm:

    Just did a Google map of Grafton, shifting between map and satellite view. Water Street indeed.


  13. - Macoupin Manny - Thursday, Jun 6, 19 @ 2:55 pm:

    I’m not sure you can build levees tall enough or wide enough to circumvent substantial property loss if we end up with century level floods every 25-30 years. Sure, you can save the farmland and towns by building the best and tallest levee if your given enough money, but that will just divert the water to your neighbors accross the river/downstream who don’t have the resources to build a 60 foot levee wide enough hold a river.

    And while I personally believe that climate change is a factor in the frequency of these floods, so is building taller and levees.


  14. - Mama - Thursday, Jun 6, 19 @ 3:02 pm:

    I hope the people who live there have good flood insurance.


  15. - Mama - Thursday, Jun 6, 19 @ 3:03 pm:

    We are going rolling…. rolling… rolling down the river…


  16. - M - Thursday, Jun 6, 19 @ 3:07 pm:

    “Sure, you can save the farmland and towns by building the best and tallest levee if your given enough money, but that will just divert the water to your neighbors accross the river/downstream who don’t have the resources to build a 60 foot levee wide enough hold a river.”

    You are right the tall levees need to be all the way to the Gulf of Mexico, but don’t look for any federal money to help build those tall levees anytime soon.


  17. - Mama - Thursday, Jun 6, 19 @ 3:09 pm:

    Rich, Are the Quid Cities under water too?


  18. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Thursday, Jun 6, 19 @ 3:15 pm:

    ==I hope the people who live there have good flood insurance.==

    With 6 major flood events in the last 11 years (as opposed to 3 between 1844 and 1973), only the federal government would be dumb enough to provide flood insurance in Grafton. It’s a great little town when it’s not underwater (shout-out to the Fin Inn), but I doubt a climate change plan is going to help anytime soon. Might be cheaper to pack everything up and head to higher ground


  19. - SOIL M - Thursday, Jun 6, 19 @ 3:27 pm:

    One reason that major flooding occurs more frequently on the upper Mississippi and Missouri rivers is indeed Man-Made. And the Men who made it work for the Army Corps of Engineers, and Developers along those stretches of rivers who have forgotten the lessons learned from the 1927 Flood. While major flooding does occur on the Lower Mississippi, it is less frequent and less devastating because there is less construction along the sides and in the channel of the river. They remember what was learned and give the Mississippi more room to spread, and not have going up as the only course.
    Also, several Federal Buy Outs have occurred since the 1993 and 2011 Floods which have moved many people out of flood plains. As I am in a County that is 6 months now into a flood event, it gets to the point that you have to wonder, if you have gone through this same thing that many times, but havent taken advantages of offers to relocate, dont you have to take some responsibility for what is happening to you now? And yes, like Rich, I mean no disrespect to those who are fighting through this including those who moved into these areas not knowing this happens on a near regular basis. Many have taken advantage of buyouts and moved out of flood plains, some didnt and now regret it but those who choose to stay and have no wish to change, know what to expect.

    And no, you can not build levees tall enough to hold it all, you have to give the river room to spread outward.


  20. - Macoupin Manny - Thursday, Jun 6, 19 @ 3:28 pm:

    “You are right the tall levees need to be all the way to the Gulf of Mexico, but don’t look for any federal money to help build those tall levees anytime soon.”

    Agreed. It’s not going to happen.

    The cheapest fix, and the least popular one would be to tear down the oversized levees and buy up the flood plains.

    Fewer levees, fewer floods. Purchase price of the low lying plain would be a small fraction of a capital investment in a 4000 mile, 60 ft levee.


  21. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jun 6, 19 @ 3:29 pm:

    ===While major flooding does occur on the Lower Mississippi, it is less frequent and less devastating because===

    Because it backs up the river so it floods up north.

    Fixed it for ya


  22. - Boat captain - Thursday, Jun 6, 19 @ 3:30 pm:

    The reason there are more frequent floods is because the EPA won’t let the dredges pump the spoils out of the river on the bank. Because they say it is contaminated. They can only pump it to another spot in the river. There is no depth to the rivers anymore, just dredged to maintain the depth the barges need to maneuver. But yet they let us eat the fish out of the river, wouldn’t they be contaminated too? Lived and worked on the river most of my life. The floods will just get higher. Look at the recent flood maps the feds put out. Check where they put the lines. Just proves the point they know what is going to happen.


  23. - SOIL M - Thursday, Jun 6, 19 @ 3:40 pm:

    Because it backs up the river so it floods up north.

    Not true. The Lower Mississippi below Cairo is much wider and has more flood plains to spread out into. There is not near as much construction on and beside the river as there is on the Upper Mississippi, from Cairo North. It also has the ability to back up the Ohio Valley, as it currently is and is the reason it is still above flood stage at Cairo.
    There is a world of difference between the Memphis District and the St. Louis District Corps of Engineers and their ideas on construction and flood control.


  24. - Blue Dog Dem - Thursday, Jun 6, 19 @ 3:54 pm:

    SoilM @3:27 &3:40. You are correct.


  25. - BMC - Thursday, Jun 6, 19 @ 3:55 pm:

    Maybe the government should rethink disaster planning and assistance and stop subsidizing people living in harm’s way. There are just some places that are too risky and environmentally sensitive to live. Rather than rebuild in dangerous areas, maybe we should relocate.


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