The Midwest is still experiencing major flooding, but waters began a slow retreat, offering hope to some residents. The Illinois River flooding has ruined several homes and businesses in downtown Peoria.
Floodwaters were lapping against the side of Grafton’s Artisan Village, a flea market-type business for artists. Owner Marty Harp, 53, sipped a Miller Lite as he cast a wary eye to the sky.
“If we can hold off the crest and it doesn’t rain for a couple of days, it’ll be OK,” Harp said.
There are tens of thousands of white and yellow sandbags stacked 3 feet high lined blocks of the scenic riverfront, holding back waters that already had surrounded the visitors’ center and restaurants in the 114-year-old former train depot.
The flood will take its toll economically on Peoria, but authorities watching the receding waters expressed relief that, so far, no lives have been lost.
Elsewhere, there were no reports of other significant Midwestern population centers in peril, but officials were urging caution because of predictions that waterways will remain high through early May and sustain pressure on earthen levees.
Concerns persist along the Mississippi River in southeast Missouri, where smaller levees had been overtopped or breached, especially in Lincoln and Pike counties. But sandbag levees in the unprotected towns of Clarksville, Mo., and Dutchtown, Mo., were holding ahead of expected crests later in the week.
Officials in Peoria said the Illinois River finally crested Tuesday at 29.35 feet, eclipsing a 70-year record.
Because the water made numerous roads around the city impassable, firefighters had been especially concerned about being able to battle blazes since the water made numerous roads around the area impassable.
Their closest call came late Tuesday when an above-ground gasoline storage tank at a former boat repair business broke loose, raising concerns of potential disaster if it got swept south into downtown Peoria.
Richard Cottrell, a 64-year-old antique shop owner, was hopeful, but nervous. After two days of sandbagging, Cottrell thought he could rest Saturday night, but the constant beeping of heavy equipment outside and flood worries kept him up.
“I had a rough night last night. I had an anxiety attack,” he admitted about the flooding.