ST. LOUIS – A Mississippi River lock and dam north of St. Louis is facing shutdown as flooding worsens, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Thursday.
Corps spokesman Mike Petersen said Lock and Dam 24 in Clarksville, Missouri, will close to navigation Friday. The river is nearly 6 feet above flood stage in Clarksville and is expected to rise another 3 feet by Tuesday. It joins several other locks and dams in Iowa and Illinois that have been shut due to high water.
Petersen said the closures are necessary to protect locks and dams from floodwaters, but the move idles many barges that carry commercial goods such as agricultural products and fuel up and down the river.
Heavy recent rains in the upper Midwest have caused the Mississippi and many of its tributaries to rise sharply, causing significant flooding in Iowa, Illinois and in Missouri north of the confluence with the Missouri River near St. Louis. The Mississippi remains below flood stage from St. Louis to the south.
The Corps of Engineers has also activated its Emergency Operations Center in St. Louis, a move that enables the agency to provide personnel and resources to support flood-fighting efforts. Petersen said officials are working with levee districts to ensure they have plenty of supplies such as sandbags, sand and plastic that may be needed if levees are threatened.
The sudden flooding has swamped thousands of acres of farmland. Few homes or businesses are impacted – thanks in large part to buyouts that have occurred in the years since the devastating flood of 1993 – but several roads have been affected.
In Hannibal, Missouri, the popular National Tom Sawyer Days will go on as planned over the Fourth of July weekend. Events such as the fence-painting and frog-jumping contests take place on the protected side of the town's levee. But with the river already 6 feet above flood stage – and expected to go up another 4 feet by Monday – Route 79 is expected to close in spots south of town.
Hannibal is still accessible by U.S. 61, but about 60 miles to the north, U.S. 61 is closed due to flooding near Keokuk, Iowa.
In Illinois, authorities say 64-year-old Michael E. Henderson, whose body was found Tuesday in his Moline house, likely was electrocuted while trying to change a sump pump to clear floodwater from his basement.