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Hannibal officials prepare for flood season, talk issues

People have their eyes on the river in Hannibal, as we enter flood season during a global pandemic.

Emergency management officials here in Hannibal said they don't know when the flood gates downtown will be coming out, but they're hoping that the river levels continue to trend downward, as things could end up difficult if they don't.

"We're going to be going into a year starting july 1, new budget year, and with the stores and businesses all closed, it's going to have an impact on revenues," said Marion County Emergency Management Director John Hark.

He said while he doesn't have a timeline on when the gates will be removed-- he says hydrographs show the water is trending down.

Hark said that's a good thing too, as coordinating a volunteer effort like last year would be difficult due to COVID-19.

Hannibal Board of Public Works Stormwater Supervisor Mathew Munzlinger said when the riverfront is around 20 feet like now, they get their equipment into position.

"With a little bit rain it can jump quite a bit, so we want to have equipment in the right location so we're not prevented from getting it there," said Munzlinger.

He said one concern they do have, the still unprepared damage to the stormwater drain at north and bridge.

"One of the major access points is flooded now, so hopefully the river continues to drop, and we're able to get in there and finish the repair," said Munzlinger.

He said a bid is in for a temporary repair.

Hark said right now he's glad the river isn't on track to get to the point it would be a problem.

"If the river gets high enough that they shut that gatewell and start trying to hold water in that storm sewer it will be a different story," said Hark.

He said if it does though, he will work with the city to protect downtown.

"After fighting the flood we fought last year, being the second biggest, I suppose we can handle whatever comes along," said Hark.

He said concerns about the storm sewer getting backed up again will become serious if the river is set to crest above 22 feet.

The board of public works accepted a bid for just under $52,000 for a temporary repair on that storm drain last month.

They said ideally, the river would have to be below 12 feet before those repairs could be made.

Frank Healy

Multimedia Journalist at WGEM

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