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home : local news : local news

4/26/2013 10:37:00 AM Email this articlePrint this article 
As of late Friday morning
Wabash still rising, levees holding
LAWRENCEVILLE - With the Wabash River still rising and water beginning to go over one of the levees, it is recommended that residents in the floodplain area evacuate their homes.

Lawrence County Sheriff Russell Adams said phase three of the Lawrence County Floodplain Evacuation Plan has been activated due to some water beginning to come over the Cross Levee, between Westport and St. Francisville in the area where the Embarras River empties into the Wabash.

Adams said Friday morning that levee commissioners and others were still sandbagging at Cross Levee and that the levee was still holding, despite some seepage.

"With the current rainfall, backwaters have put all the drainage ditches at maximum capacity," Adams said. "Because of the backwater, response and evacuation times in this region will be significantly reduced if the levees were to breech."

Officials said Thursday afternoon that some residents have already evacuated and that others are in the process. 

Adams and Lawrence County Emergency Management Agency coordinator Jess Angle both confirmed that there are about 150 homes in the threatened floodplain area.

As of mid-morning today, the Embarras River was at 38.51 feet and appears to have either crested or be very close to cresting, more than eight feet above its 30-foot flood stage. However, the Wabash River at Westport/Vincennes is at 27.39 feet and is expected to rise to 27.7 feet, the third-highest crest level on record and slightly higher than in 2008 and 2011 when the area was hit by major flooding.

Adams noted that in addition to Illinois Route 33 between Westport and Heathsville, several rural roads in eastern Lawrence County have been closed due to safety concerns. Highway commissioners are having road closed signs put up and in many places barricades have been put into place.

The Illinois Department of Transportation closed the state highway connecting St. Francisville to Illinois Route 1 on Thursday due to backwater beginning to come over the highway. The Cannonball Bridge, spanning the Wabash River at St. Francisville, has also been closed.

Route 33 going through Westport is still open. As of Friday morning, it was reported that Westport was dry.

The sheriff's department is conducting extra patrols in the floodplain area.

Officials went door to door in the affected areas earlier this week advising residents as to the situation.

Lawrence County residents are reminded not to drive through floodwaters.

THE UNIT 20 school district issued a news release Thursday regarding student pickup in the floodplain areas of eastern Lawrence County.

"Due to the Lawrence County Emergency Management (Agency) recommendation for evacuation in the Prairie, Westport and Lake Lawrence area, the CUSD 20 transportation of students by Beth Burson and Kim Gaither in the affected area will not occur beginning today, April 25, until further notice," the press release stated. "Parents of students in the affected area need to make arrangements to bring their child to and from school until further notice."

People with questions regarding bus pickup are urged to contact their child's school.


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