WEST ALTON, MO (KMOX) – Warning sirens blared in West Alton Monday night as 590 residents were advised to evacuate because of a levee breach in northeastern St. Charles County.
The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning because of the breach. The levee was located near Highway 67 and the Lincoln Shields Access Road.
River Pointe Fire Chief Rick Pender says the Missouri Department of Transportation put up barriers earlier in the weekend in case water overtopped a levee.
“That failed and since then we’ve been working on trying to sure it up in a couple other spots,” Pender says of the barrier.
After not one but two additional flood barriers failed, Highway 67 was covered in water. The Army Corps of Engineers and local officials worked overnight and into the morning to build quick barriers to protect the town, but residents are still being urged to leave.
“There are crews, city officials, levee district officials,” Pender says, “they’re up right now and they’re going to work on our plan C if you will.”
Pender says, the local fire departments were going door to door to let people know there was a barrier breach and they are advised to evacuate the area.
The evacuation was not mandatory but many people packed what they could and left. Pender says he is still not sure how many people will actually leave the area.
The Argosy Casino remains closed and is expected to do so through this Friday. The River Road is closed from Highway 67 to Godfrey.
It was not all bad news for Alton, as the crest of the Mississippi River in the Alton area tied the 1986 crest for the fifth highest flood of all time, but is lower than the what the original forecast called for.
That’s not the only history being made in Alton as Alton Mayor Brant Walker says for this flood, no one had to shovel dirt through an inverted orange traffic cone. For the first time, an automated sandbagging machine on loan from Madison County was put to use.
“It was a very, very good piece of equipment,” Walker says
The mayor says last Friday, in preparation for flooding, they were able to fill about 1,000 sandbags in four hours, and another 1,000 on Sunday.
Alton is not the only area that seems to be having troubles with flooding. In nearby St. Charles, Mayor Sally Faith says flooding is causing damage, but says no homes have been harmed.
“The river is at the stages that it was in 1995; now as you’re aware 1993 was the largest flood,” Faith says. “It’s into the park, it’s up to the Katy Trail.”
She says the damage is minimal and is thankful there has not been any serious injuries or casualties as a result of the recent severe storms.