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Jackson County towns prepare for more rain

Submitted by Carbondale Times on

Dustin Duncan
Carbondale Times 


It was a wet weekend for residents and a busy weekend for public works employees in the Carbondale, Murphysboro and the rest of Southern Illinois area. 

Just as everybody is just getting used to being dry, the rain is scheduled to start again Wednesday. One of the major concerns is the Big Muddy River in Murphysboro. 

According to Deanna Lindstrom with the National Weather Service in Paducah, the river is projected to crest at 40 feet on Thursday morning. She said the forecast is calling for one to two more inches of rain from Wednesday night into Thursday morning. 

The National Weather Service said the river will reach 40 feet by 7 a.m. on Thursday, which is just below the record level set in 2011 of 40.5 feet. In reviewing records from flooding in 2011, the city of Murphysboro expects the following roads to be closed as water rises — Plum Street, Watson Road, 23rd Street and Lindall, ports of South 3rd, 4th and 5th Streets, portions of Shoemaker Drive from 5th Street and Bridge Street to the 1200 block of Shoemakers, Stephen Drive, Tony Drive and the old Illinois 13 Bridge over the Big Muddy River. 

The Murphysboro Emergency Management Agency is advising residents to avoid these areas if possible and never attempt to drive through a flooded roadway. 

Murphysboro officials are working Jackson County Emergency Management Officials to make sure infrastructure is protected, and working with the American Red Cross to help provide shelter for residents relocated due to the high water. 

Throughout this past weekend, Murphysboro Mayor Will Stephens said his city faced similar problems as others in Southern Illinois. He said meetings have been happening each morning to monitor river levels and making the best plans to protect residents.  

Stephens said the best thing the city can do is make a plan and advise residents of what is coming. 

“Our infrastructure is what it is,” he said. “A 12-inch pipe will hold 12 inches of water, and whenever you are getting 9 or 10 inches of rain in a 48-hour period, it just backs up and it backs up everywhere.”

He said the closure of streets is for the residents’ own protection.

“When we close a road, not only are we afraid of what could happen with a car hitting water at too high of a speed, but we are also afraid of a vehicle could float away,” Stephens said. “Murphysboro is on the Big Muddy River, and we will have some places this week that there will be some streets closed for about 4 or 5 days.”

In Carbondale, one of the major entries into city was flooded. 

City Manager Gary Williams said Piles Fork Creek flooded Saturday morning and Walunt Street (Illinois 13) had to be closed at Wall Street. Guests on the first floor of The Econo Lodge on Illinois were awakened by standing water in their hotel rooms. Williams said the city contacted the owner and asked him to relocate his customers. The owner of the Econo Lodge also owns American’s Best Inn across the street. 

Williams said when there is standing water, there is always a concern about sanitary backup. 

“It is a public health issue at that point,” he said. 

Another business in Carbondale — Dunkin’ Donuts — had to close its doors over the weekend due to a sinkhole forming in its parking lot. Williams said the pavement depressed and left a chunk of about 40 feet long and 20 feet wide. 

Williams said the Carbondale Police Department worked around the clock on Saturday morning to warn residents. He said the rain made it to where there weren’t too many calls for service, so officers could be out putting up barricades and responding to public safety. 

Southern Illinois University also had its share of trouble with the rain. 

According to spokesperson Rae Goldsmith, University Hall had flooding due to overnight storms on Friday. 

“About 180 students were relocated to other residence halls on campus, most to Schneider,” Goldsmith said Sunday. “University Hall will remain closed for the remaining two weeks of the semester for cleanup and repairs.”

She said other parts of campus had some water in basements, but nothing significant. There were also a few roads on the east part of campus that closed due to standing water, but all roads were open again by late Saturday afternoon. 

The storm was part of a larger storm system that has caused flooding and tornadoes across the South, killing at least 10 people and injuring dozens more in Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas throughout the weekend.

In Jackson County, the state announced Monday afternoon it would be closing the route between Illinois 3 and Illinois 151 and Chester. The state said the route would be closed indefinitely starting Monday due to high water created from the Mississippi River flooding. The road will remain closed until the floodwater recedes from the area. 

Gov. Rauner activated the State Emergency operations Center in Springfield Monday so state personnel can be deployed quickly if need to assist local emergency responders. 

State resources already deployed include inmate crews from IDOC to assist with sandbagging in Murphysboro and Desoto, delivery of sandbags and plastic to Dawson, Grand Tower and the Menard Correctional Center in Murphysboro by IDOT and traffic support from ISP. In addition, the American Red Cross has a shelter in Marion with others on standby if needed.

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