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Hannibal businesses, life gets back to normal along the Mississippi

 As the Mississippi River continues to drop, life and business is starting to get back to normal in Hannibal.

Captain Steve Terry said it has been a tough start to his 42nd season aboard the Mark Twain Riverboat.
“We were targeting the start the end of March so the middle of May? I guess we’ll take it,” said Terry.
Tuesday, the boat hosted just its first school group of the year. Terry said they would normally open at the end of March, but this year he gave no rides during April. However, he said that doesn’t mean he’s completely lost out on business.
“On our dinner cruise groups that we had, most of those were motor coach groups so we were able to move them into places like the Rialto or the Mark Twain Museum and offer them all the experience except for the boat ride and quite honestly the way the weather has been, they were probably happier at those locations than on the boat,” said Terry.
Down river, Sawyer’s Creek Amusement Park is trying to open for the first time this year as well with the cleanup process well underway.
“The mess we have to clean up is all the mud and sludge which was super thick this time around just because it sat there so much longer,” said Sawyer’s Creek GM Jeanne Youngwirth.
Youngwirth said this flood was one of the worst she has seen in the ten years her family has owned the park.
“This was probably the wildest I had ever seen the Mississippi River,” said Youngwirth. “It was actually quite impressive if you could get past the thought of what you were in store for when you get back in.”
Captain Terry hopes to have a full schedule of cruises in the next couple of weeks. As for Sawyer’s Creek, they hope to be open for Memorial Day weekend.
Meanwhile, the flood gates remain in place in Hannibal Tuesday.
Emergency Management Director John Hark said they will begin to slowly remove the sandbags on the levee and plywood on the gates within the next week if the river continues to go down.
He said that will be a slower process than when those were put in place.

“This plywood on these gates, everything is marked and titled and so forth. It’ll all be stored in one spot and it will be much simpler and easier to put them back up again if that becomes necessary or we’ll have them available down the road one of these days if we have another major flood where we need them,” said Hark.

Hark said if the river is forecast to come up above 20.5 feet, two of the gates go in.

If the river is expected to rise over 21.5 feet, all of the gates go in.

And if the river climbs to over 27 feet, the sandbags and plywood are installed to raise the levee.

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Brett Knese

Multi-Media Journalist at WGEM News.

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