Marseilles residents relieved flooding less than predicted
The Illinois River in Marseilles has reached the level where devastating floods have occurred previously but the dam and the rebuilt levy have left the town largely unaffected.
There are still large amounts of flood waters at the Marseilles Baseball Diamond and the empty lots across the street are covered in murky, muddy waters but the rest of the town is mostly untouched.
“My parents were flooded when the barges broke the dam a few years ago but it's not an issue anymore since that dam was fixed,” said Marseilles resident Branden Landis, on Thursday. “A friend sent me a picture of my mom’s house when it happened and my goodness, it was bad. (Today) was supposed to be worse than this but I’m so glad it's not.”
A mandatory evacuation was not necessary. The river is crested Thursday night more than a foot below that mark.
The 100-year-flood that hit Marseilles in 2013 was largely caused by a barge accidentally breaking one of the locks on the dam. This caused the dam to overflow and the abundance of water destroyed homes and vehicles, forcing residents to evacuate.
The rushing Illinois River water was not a deterrent for dog walkers and pedestrians Thursday. The Marseilles Middle East Conflicts Memorial Wall provided the best view of the river, although 50 feet to its right is a sidewalk that dips into the river, disappearing beneath the river’s rapid tide.
“Since the dams are fixed, I don’t think we’re going to have any more issues,” Landis said. “Someday I’m getting a kayak but I’m thinking there’s no way on a day like today.”
Roy Walker, of Country at Heart Antiques, recalled the 2013 flood as something that could have been prevented.
“There was a barge that was permitted to head upstream, they got permission from the lockmaster,” Walker said. “They got about a quarter of a mile upstream and the cable towing the barges snapped and they rammed the dam, forcing the gates closed. The river rose and flooded over 200 homes. That was as much a reason for the flood as the rain was.”
Walker said there’s been more local rain this year and in 2013 the river’s height came from the rain in cities that are upstream from Marseilles.
“The Corps of Engineers have begun rebuilding the levy and that’s retarded much of the water,” Walker said. “I’m just glad we don’t have to go through the aftermath and everything that happened with FEMA again.”