For Larry Markley, the flood already is a disaster.
His restaurant, Bubba’s, sits on the unprotected side of Hannibal, Mo.’s levee.
On Tuesday, he scrambled to move equipment out and turn off utilities as floodgates were put in and forecasts called for the highest water levels since 2001.
“This is a major catastrophe for us,” Markley said. “It’s a tremendous loss.”
The Mississippi River rose a foot between Monday and Tuesday, and may stall briefly before climbing again over the weekend.
By the middle of next week, it’s expected to top 26 feet.
That would be the city’s fourth-worst flood behind the inundations of 1993, 1973 and 2001, respectively.
John Hark, Hannibal’s emergency management director, said he had no choice but to put in floodgates at four openings Tuesday.
“The river is forcing our hand,” Hark said. “It’s starting to show its ugly face.”
What’s to blame
Torrential rains have caused major problems in the upper Midwest.
A tremendous amount of water will enter the Mississippi in the next few days through rivers such as the Iowa, Wisconsin and Des Moines.
There are few worries at levees such as those that protect Hannibal, West Quincy and the Sny Island district in Adams and Pike counties of Illinois.
“They’ve got better levees now than they had in ‘93,” said Mike Klingner of the Upper Mississippi Illinois and Missouri Rivers Association.
Concerns are aimed at smaller levees such as those in the Lima Lake area north of Quincy and the Gregory Drainage District in Lewis County.
“The only good news is the profile shows a quick crest and then it falls back,” Klingner said. “So. we’re not looking at an event like we had in ‘93 that we had to fight over months.”
Barge traffic on the Mississippi may be halted by flooding.
The Army Corps of Engineers is looking at closing locks for up to two weeks on a 250-mile stretch of the Mississippi from Fulton, Ill., to Clarksville, Mo.
The only lock not affected would be at Keokuk, Iowa, where the gates are high enough that they aren’t impacted by flooding.
P.B. Shah, a senior vice president with Ingram Marine Group, predicted the impact to the barge industry would be “significant.”
“We’re ready for the rain to end to make up lost productivity,” Shah said.
So far, flooding has not affected barge traffic on the Illinois River.
Canton flood preps
Canton, Ill., is putting in its floodgates today and discussing levee contingencies.
City leaders are worried that forecast water levels could top the 27.5-foot levee.
Page 2 of 2 - “It’s going to be high, which makes us nervous,” said Canton Mayor Joe Clark.
The city will look at buying supplies such as batter boards, fencing and sandbags.
Clark estimates putting sandbags atop the three-mile levee could take as long as a week.
“We hope we don’t need them, but at this point we don’t know,” Clark said.
Back at Bubba’s
Markley moved from room to room of his restaurant instructing helpers what to pack and what to leave behind.
Markley has been through this before, but the post-flood cleanup doesn’t get any easier.
Markley, who has 10 employees, hopes he hasn’t served his last catfish. But he wasn’t optimistic.
“We’ll have to evaluate whether we re-open Bubba’s or not,” he said.