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City leaders and volunteers in Scott County sandbag levee to fight rising Illinois River

The Illinois River is rising quickly. Sandbagging efforts are happening up and down the Illinois River, as city leaders and residents prepare to fight the rising water.

Emergency management Director Justin Daws said they’re working to build up the levee.

“Right now, these guys are laying down fences and what we call fencing and bagging,” Daws said. “We basically run a GPS through these levees and shoot all the low spots and try to fill them up with sand.”

Daws said on low spots of the levee, the predicted four to six inches of rain next week, could put six to eight inches of water over the levee.

He said that’s why he’s grateful to have received the help from the state that he needs.

“Between us and the state, we’ve come a long way in figuring out how to get resources where we need to get them,” Daws said. “We’re utilizing the corrections. We’re glad they’ve opened us to us.”

Farmers who came out to volunteer said the biggest concern is keeping fields on the other side of the levee dry, because if not, it could cost them.

“I don’t know how many farmers farm down here, but that’s how we make a living and if that river goes over, we’ll never get a crop this year,” farmer Ben Coon said.

That’s why Coon, a farmer and levee district commissioner said it’s crucial they stop the water.

“It would be a huge expense, we’d have to re-dig our ditches, it would just go on and on, it would be a lot of work,” Coon said.

Daws said they’ve been sandbagging since Friday and don’t plan to stop anytime soon.

“Right now, we’re shooting to give everything at it until Wednesday,” Daws said. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed that we don’t get that two to four inches and if we do get rain, it’s to the two end and not the four.”

Daws said barge traffic is stopped on the river. As the river rises, he said they will monitor the water levels because there is a possibility they could close the Florence bridge and even evacuate the town of Naples.


Kara Biernat

Kara Biernat is a MultiMedia Journalist for WGEM News.

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