The Mississippi and Missouri rivers slopped over levees Saturday, threatening a repeat of the historic mess they made in 1993.
The rivers meet in St. Charles County, where some residents were urged to evacuate after a break in a levee along the Missouri, county emergency management spokeswoman Petra Haws said.
The breach could once again make an island of Portage des Sioux, which was cut off in 1993’s flood.
Nearby, nearly 400 residents of West Alton were forced out about midnight when the Mississippi topped a levee there. Sandbaggers heard a loud roar as the water stormed across a highway.
“Here we go again,” Haws said. West Alton was submerged to its roofs in ‘93.
Gov. Mel Carnahan and state disaster officials took an aerial tour Saturday of flooding and recent tornado damage in eastern Missouri. The state is once again looking to the federal government for money for the damage and cleanup, Carnahan said. No damage estimate was immediately available.
This week’s storms have forced rivers and creeks across the Midwest beyond their banks. Two deaths have been blamed on the high water. The record floods of 1993 claimed 48 lives in nine Midwestern states.
Down the Mississippi at Ste. Genevieve, Scott Gross watched as heavy machinery dumped tons of rock and dirt on a levee holding back the high water.
“It’s weird to go through this again,” Gross said. “But we’ve got to have a place to live.”
Vern Bauman, president of the levee district, couldn’t agree more.
“I must be one of the oldest guys on earth,” Bauman said. “They told us ‘93 was the 500-year flood, and here we are again. I must be 800 years old.”
Bauman helped lead the fight two years ago, when the French-settled city raised its levee just a few inches above the Mississippi’s 49 1/2-foot crest, thanks in part to 1.1 million sandbags.
This year, efforts are focused on saving the new $48 million levee. Residents were encouraged by a forecast of clear weather.
“If the water holds and the river forecasts don’t change, we have a good chance of holding and saving what we’ve protected,” he said.