With rain in the forecast for the next few days and river levels already above flood stage, county emergency management (EMA) and highway department staff will have a hard time relaxing this Memorial Day weekend.
County EMA Director Abe Cook says although there were no plans to activate the emergency operation center, the staff will have enhanced monitoring of the Missouri River.
“This is not a weekend we will be turning our phones off,” Cook said. “Everything will depend on the rainfall and we will have to take a look at it hourly.”
Cook added the ground in the river basins is already heavily saturated from rains earlier in the week and that can lead to not only the river rising, but more flash flooding in streams and creeks.
He added the main watch this weekend will be on the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, but the smaller Meramec and Bourbeuse are not expected to be problem areas.
“They are backups for the Mississippi so there could be some flooding,” Cook said. “But, the water coming into them will be from the back end instead of the front end like past flooding years.”
Although technically not in Franklin County, Cook said a major focus point will be on Highway 47 at Lake Creek in the Dutzow area where the water would cover the road first, hindering north to south travel.
A second point of interest is just north of the new Highway 47 bridge at Washington, that if and when water reaches the road the Missouri Department of Transportation will close the bridge.
Franklin County Highway Administrator Ron Williams says although his department’s direct contact with the Missouri River is minimal, crews will be on call this weekend for potential flooding all over the county.
“Everything depends on how much rain we get,” Williams said. “We have a few spots in the Labadie area that if a levee gets breached we may have to go out and close a road.”
He added before leaving Friday, supervisors who will have the emergency phones for the weekend will have their trucks loaded with road closure barricades, signage and emergency lighting.
“They will take their trucks home with them and we will have additional equipment loaded on trucks at the shops,” Williams said. “Basically everybody will be on call. The supervisors can go out and assess the situation and call in additional guys if they need them. They will report to the shops and get the other trucks.”
Williams added as of Friday, he was not aware of any landslides or need for any floodgates this weekend, but again everything will depend on the rainfall.
According to the National Weather Service (NWS) predictions on Thursday, the Missouri River at Washington was expected to crest at 29.9 feet Saturday afternoon.
The normal river level is 15 feet and any depth over 20 feet is classified by the NWS to be minor flood stage. If the river reaches 28 feet or higher, it will enter moderate flood stage.
Predictions for next week show the river to rapidly drop beginning Monday morning and be back below flood stage by June 3.
Mississippi at St. Louis
The Mississippi River at St. Louis is currently at major flood stage and is projected to crest at 41.9 feet on Memorial Day and begin a very gradual decline to 31 feet by June 5.
Any depth over 35 feet at this location is considered moderate flood stage and any depth over 30 feet is classified as minor flood stage.
Thursday morning, the Bourbeuse River at Union was measured at 9.52 feet, which is well below action stage of 13 feet.
Any river depth at that location over 14.5 feet is considered minor flood stage and it would have to reach 22 feet before being considered moderate flood stage.
Meramec at Pacific
The NWS predicts the Meramec River at Pacific will crest at 13.6 feet early Saturday morning and will drop sharply over the next few days.
By Thursday, May 30, the river will be at 4.5 feet.
Minor flood stage for the river at this location is 15 feet.
On Thursday, May 23, the river depth was 6.13 feet and rising.
Meramec at Sullivan
The Meramec River at Sullivan was projected to crest Thursday, May 23, at 11.08 feet and rapidly decline to a depth of 2 feet by Thursday, May 30.
Minor flood stage in that area is classified as any depth over 11 feet.
By Thursday, May 30, the river level is projected to be down to 3 feet.
Editor’s Note: This story was written Thursday morning.