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Rain and abnormal weather patterns continue to pose problem for the mid-West

Posted on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 10:18 am

This was the scene just a few day's ago along Hwy 79. Shown above is Route N at Winfield where the now somewhat receding water was high above the road. According to Dr. Jeffery Masters of Weather Underground, the pattern of drought and flood could be the possible norm for the next decade.

It’s been a wet, wet season so far for the Elsberry, Winfield and Foley areas. In fact, many growers and businesses have been feeling the pain as no end is in sight. Snowing in the north and rain in the surrounding areas have the river becoming a new scenery for those traveling down Hwy. 79 from Clarksville to Hwy. 70.

Many cities have kept a close eye on their levees, especially on the eastern levees protecting communities on the eastern side Lincoln County. Winfield-Foley Firefighters discovered a 150-foot breach in the Bobs Creek Levy near Winfield as floodwaters continued to rise significantly in parts of Winfield and Foley.

Firefighters went door to door in affected areas in Winfield Acres and Foley, and informed residents of the situation. Evacuation was voluntary.

Later, Winfield-Foley Fire Protection District noticed something was not right with the flow of floodwaters between Foley and Winfield. Firefighters checked the levees by boat and discovered a 150-foot breach in the Bob’s Creek levee just southeast of Winfield, which is approximately a half-mile from the Pin Oak levee that breached in 2008.

The Pin Oak levee, Mississippi River levee and all other levees remained in tact protecting the City of Winfield and areas other than Winfield Acres.

The Corps of Engineers, Pin Oak Levee District and Winfield Foley Firefighters worked to contain a sand boil discovered at the Pin Oak levee threatening C Winfield. A sand boil occurs when water seeps into the ground underneath the levee and saturates the ground on the “dry side” of the levee. Left unchecked, there is a chance of additional flooding and a potential levee breach.

Mississippi River levels continued to fall last weekend; however, a new storm system began a new rise. The vast majority of the floodwater fluctuation is from water that had already flowed outside the riverbanks over the past week as it settled in the low-lying areas.

The National Weather Service issued a Flood Warning for affected areas, which remains in effect until officials are sure the threat has subsided.

FEMA will be evaluating flooded areas within the week, said Kelly Hardcastle, emergency management director of Lincoln County.

The City of Old Monroe used their flood pump, which assisted in keeping floodwater away from the city. As of Saturday, April 27 waters of the Cuivre River continued to recede, leaving open space between the bottom of the bridge and the water.

Sand and sandbags have been and remain available for area residents and Lincoln County Emergency Management has offered to establish a shelter for displaced residents, should the waters rise further. According to Firefighters who made contact with them, most residents have other arrangements such as staying with friends and family, if needed. For now, most residents have chosen to stay in their homes.

Hardcastle and other officials were in the area Monday, April 29. He said the water continues to recede in the Foley and Winfield community. It will be some time before the waters will recede enough for residents who live closer to the river may return home. Water didn’t get into Foley but did in the Winfield Acres subdivision. The levees continue to hold but will continue to be monitored.

According to Climate Nexus, The current situation along the Mississippi River and its surrounding basin has been described as “weather whiplash.” Just months after ongoing drought left the river at near-record lows, moderate and major floods covered towns, cropland and homes this week. Four deaths have been attributed to heavy rains and flash floods.

“It’s important to recognize climate change is driving this whiplash — the trend of wide swings between heavy precipitation and ongoing drought — in the Midwest and elsewhere,” reported Dr. Jeffery Masters of Weather Underground. “The new normal in the coming decades is going to be more and more extreme flood-drought-flood cycles like we are seeing now in the Midwest. And this sort of weather whiplash is going to be an increasingly severe pain in the neck for society. If we continue to allow heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide continue to build up in the atmosphere at the current near-record pace, no amount of adaptation can prevent increasingly more violent cases of weather whiplash from being a serious threat to the global economy and the well-being of billions of people.”

(Part of the information used in this article was provided by Bob Simmons of the Lincoln County Journal).

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