Levee damage poses serious threat to Grand Tower - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Levee damage poses serious threat to Grand Tower

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GRAND TOWER -- Folks in Grand Tower continue packing up and leaving town in anticipation of flooding. The Big Muddy Levee has needed repairs for several years, leaving those in town worried about flooding every time it rains. 

Grand Tower native John Norton believes fixing the levee would save his town from going under water.

"Because once it floods inside the levee and the levee breaks, it doesn't take near as much water to fill up because half of it's full already," said Norton. 

State Representative Terri Bryant stopped in Grand Tower Wednesday, to see how a lack of repairs to the Big Muddy River levee poses a serious flood threat to the area.

Representative Bryant worries for those living along the river.

"For those of us that live around all of this water, it's a beautiful part of the state, but when the water starts coming in, it puts a lot of people on edge, and get you real worried about what's going to happen with your home," said Bryant.

Bryant toured the Big Muddy Levee Wednesday to see why repairs are necessary. The levee has needed repairs for several years now due to high waters forming slides on the side of the levee. 

With nearly 30 slides along the levee needing repairs, levee officials don't know if the levee will hold with all the recent rain.

"You know, water gets up on these slides and lays there for a while. It may eventually start seeping through, and we may have problems, we don't know yet," explained Red Mezo, Grand Tower Levee Commissioner.

A flood in Grand Tower would leave hundreds without a home. Norton says that could force him to leave his home of nearly 70 years.

"I mean basically, once you've had it, they wouldn't come back and rebuild the levee. I'm sure of it" concluded Norton.

Bryant is angered by the fact the levee hasn't been repaired yet after several years.

"Getting out there and seeing some of the same slides that I saw two and three years ago still there, knowing the angst and the worry that the people who love here have to experience is a little bit frustrating," said Bryant.

Mezo says he's optimistic a contract with the corps of engineers will be reached in the coming days. With the repair contract all but finalized, Mezo says crews should get out here sometime in the late summer to begin working on the damaged levee, as soon as the flood waters dry up.

For now, folks are packing up their homes and heading for higher ground. With more rain on the way, only time will tell if the levee will hold.

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