Farmer surveys damage from rogue barges - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Farmer surveys damage from rogue barges

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ALEXANDER COUNTY (WSIL) -- A couple in Olive Branch woke early Wednesday morning to text messages alerting them that six barges had been sucked through the Len Small levee and were sitting about a half-mile from their home. Four of those barges came to rest on a shallow spot on their property. 

"It's crazy. It's crazy to see four huge barges out in the middle of your farm field," said Sherry Pecord. 

Sherry Pecord says this has been her fear since the Len Small Levee breached. Barges or other river traffic sucked through the massive breach and onto her property. The massive flat-bottomed ships did just that Wednesday, destroying her husband's expensive irrigation rig and knocking down power lines. 

"Just last week, I bragged that you know with the water starting to drop down, that pole that was leaning has held on, we haven't lost electricity, that's awesome," said Pecord. 

Around 3 a.m. Wednesday that changed. Pecord says for months, despite floodwaters surrounding her home, the power has remained on until these barges took out the power lines. 

"They came through the levee break, through the field, then they crossed Miller City Road," said Pecord.

However, Pecord says despite another obstacle, the sun has helped dry about 20 percent of their farm ground. 

"(The) corn window has passed and we are getting close on the bean window, but we are doing what we can to get something in," said Pecord. 

Pecord says she's crossing her fingers the heavy rains stay away for a while, even if that means she has four new very large lawn ornaments. 

"There is no way you're going to get a barge out of there unless the water would come back up really, really, high and even at that point, I don't think it would be high enough that a tugboat could get in to push them out. So I think they are there to stay," said Pecord. 

She's hoping the interruption to river traffic will get the attention of the Army Corps of Engineers, so they see the urgency in fixing this broken levee. 

"I've said that there's a bigger picture. It's changed the ecosystem, it's changed our fishing our hunting and now it's affecting the traffic on the river itself. It's a big deal, maybe now they'll finally see that," said Pecord. 

The company that owns the barges told News 3 they are working to safely move the barges back into the navigation channel.

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