Mississippi expected to exceed major flood stage

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The dam, built of recycled blacktop, has protected the Crooked Oar Bar and Marina so far. (Photos by Ted Pennekamp)

This homeowner in the 100 block of North Main Street in Prairie du Chien has built a wall of sandbags.

Wisconsin River water flows over County C in Grant County. County C is closed.

Water across Washington Street continues to rise.

 

By Ted Pennekamp

 

As the Mississippi River continues to rise, some Prairie du Chien residents are preparing and bracing for the next crest, which is expected to reach 22.5 feet by Friday.

The river was at 20.9 at 6:45 a.m. on April 24 at the McGregor gauge, according to the National Weather Service. There was a flow rate of 189,900 cubic feet per second on April 24 at Lock and Dam 9 near Lynxville, according to the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Paul DeVoss, the owner of the Crooked Oar Bar and Marina on County K north of Prairie du Chien, was busy Tuesday improving the dam he constructed in order to stop water from entering the popular bar and restaurant.

DeVoss built the dam from recycled blacktop in anticipation of the first crest which occurred on April 5 at 21.34 feet. Recycled blacktop gets hard, explained DeVoss. The dam, along with pumping, worked well for the first crest.

“We’re gonna keep packing it,” said DeVoss, who noted the water came within about two inches from going over the dam during the first crest. The water then slowly receded to about 18 feet before beginning to come back up again in recent days.

“We need to make it about two feet higher in the next two days,” said DeVoss Tuesday. “We hope it holds. I’ve had a lot of sleepless nights. If it doesn’t hold, we’ll be moving stuff out of the bar fast.”

DeVoss also tied his dock to two trees so it can’t move so much. During the last crest, it was quite windy and the dock blew around a lot.

If the weather continues to be warm, DeVoss said the tiki bar in the back of the Crooked Oar will be open for business. If the dam holds, the base of the tiki bar might be below the level of the water.

DeVoss said there would have been about eight inches of water inside of the Crooked Oar during the first crest if the dam had not held. This time, there might be two feet inside the bar, he said, if the dam does not work.

Some garages and out buildings in back yards along the west side of North Main Street in Prairie du Chien are already inundated with water. One homeowner in the 100 block of North Main has a wall of sandbags built up around the house.

Dan and Deb Noble of Rowdy’s D&D Bar and Grill at the corner of North Main Street and Blackhawk Avenue had one pump pumping water out of their basement on Tuesday. Dan said, however, that he will probably shut the pump off at some point. He said he had three pumps going during the last crest, but shut them off because there was no point in keeping them going. He said the basement walls are rock and he likes to equalize the pressure. Deb and Dan said the water will probably not get high enough to enter the bar itself like it did in 2001. It will likely reach the third step going down into the basement, said Deb, who noted that it reached the fourth step down during the last crest.

Water over Washington Street and parts of North Main Street continues to rise and spread. St. Feriole Island is mostly under water and remains closed to vehicular traffic. Two pumps on County K continue to pump water from around a seasonal trailer court on the east side and into Gremore Lake. The pumps are going 24/7 and pump 30,000 gallons per minute.

The lock at Lock and Dam 4 at Alma, Wis., is closed to all vessels. Many other locks on the Upper Mississippi River may soon follow suit.

If the river reaches 22.5 feet, it will be the third highest at the McGregor gauge ever, and the third time in recorded history that it has been over major flood stage of 22 feet.

The flood warning continues for the Mississippi River at McGregor until further notice. Moderate flooding is occurring and major flooding is forecast.

The Wisconsin River is also flooding. County C in Grant County heading toward Millville is closed due to high water that is over the road at various locations. Forests and fields near the Wisconsin River are under water. The river was at 9.32 feet at 1 p.m. on April 23 at Muscoda and is expected to reach 9.6 feet by April 24 and then recede beginning April 25. Flood stage at the Muscoda gauge is 9 feet.

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