Rising waters threaten parts of southern Illinois | WBEZ
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Eight Forty-Eight

Rising waters threaten parts of southern Illinois

On Monday, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn issued a disaster proclamation for southern parts of the state. Representatives from the National Weather Service predict that the Ohio River could reach record levels there by this weekend. In response, several towns have already issued voluntary evacuation orders. "Pretty much, there's not any area in Southern Illinois that’s not holding water," Brent Stewart, reporter for the Southern Illinoisan, told Eight Forty-Eight's Alison Cuddy on Thursday.

Stewart said that the major concerns lie with the cities of Old Shawnee Town, Metropolis and Cairo, the first of which is already underwater. In the other cities, people feel that the levees are going to hold, but all three have issued volunteer evacuations. The fear is that the expected rain going into next week will cause the river to crest, and extensive damage will be done.

Controversially, state officials want to blast open a levee on the Mississippi near Cairo to allieviate some of the flooding damage, a task that would be executed by the Army Corps of Engineers. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon is trying to file a federal lawsuit to block the levee break, out of concern for the 130,000 acres of farmland that it would potentially drown in his own state. Illinois State Attorney General Lisa Madigan is expected to get involved today.

Stewart was unwilling to make predictions about what is going to happen looking into next week. "A lot people I talked to in the town don’t think it'll be as bad as what the city thinks it will be," he said. "But I think the city is getting ahead of the situation so early because they want to avoid a situation like happened in Katrina."

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