Poplar Bluff, Missouri Under Evacuation Order After Threat of Levee Failure (4/25/2011)


The National Weather Service warned on Monday of the imminent failure of a levee on the Black River in southeast Missouri, prompting a mandatory evacuation of about 1,000 people in Poplar Bluff. Water is topping the levee at several points, which may lead to a failure of the levee system between Poplar Bluff and the town of Qulin, the weather service said. Also, a funnel cloud was sighted near Poplar Bluff, as well, Monday evening, with no major damage resulting from that. The Black River expected to be at record crest in the coming days.

The Black River outside Poplar Bluff overuns a levee along County Road 607 on Monday. Picture courtesy of MSNBC & Associated Press.

The National Weather Service warned on Monday of the imminent failure of a levee on the Black River in southeast Missouri, prompting a mandatory evacuation of about 1,000 people in Poplar Bluff. Water is topping the levee at several points, which may lead to a failure of the levee system between Poplar Bluff and the town of Qulin, the weather service said. Also, a funnel cloud was sighted near Poplar Bluff, as well, Monday evening, with no major damage resulting from that.

County officials have evacuated about 500 structures in the southeastern part of Poplar Bluff, which has about 17,000 residents. Flood warnings have prompted evacuations of hundreds of people in Indiana, Kentucky and Missouri, following days of rain that led to rivers cresting over the flood stage, according to forecasters. Devastating rains will continue for the next 2-3 days as well. Some areas have received 10-15 inches of rain just in the last 3-4 days!

Quote from Reuters: “The ground is very saturated — there are areas with 9-10 inches of rain,” said Mike O’Connell, spokesman for the Missouri Department of Public Safety. He noted that some local roads are flooded in southern Missouri, and drivers are being warned not to go past barriers.

Governor Jay Nixon activated the Missouri National Guard on Monday to help in areas hit by flooding.

He also criticized U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to intentionally breach Birds Point levee along the Mississippi River in southeastern Missouri. Nixon said that would affect hundreds of families and “pour a tremendous amount of water into 130,000 acres of prime farmland.” That would potentially send a flood downstream for many miles, as well. A spokesperson for the Army Corps of Engineers was not immediately available for comment.

Of note, The Ohio River at Cairo, IL is predicted to crest at a record 60.5′!

Here are the weather statements concerning this flooding event.

The Flood Warning continues for the Black River at Poplar Bluff.
* Until further notice
* at 7:15 PM Monday the stage was 21.2 feet.
* Flood stage is 16.0 feet.
* Major flooding is occurring and major flooding is forecast.
* Forecast… the river will continue rising to near 22.0 feet by tomorrow… Tuesday… early afternoon then begin falling.

729 PM CDT Mon Apr 25 2011

The National Weather Service in Paducah has issued a Flash Flood Warning for a levee failure on the Black River in… Butler County in southeast Missouri Until 730 am CDT Tuesday

* At 725 PM CDT… County emergency management officials indicated the levee along the Black River from Poplar Bluff to Qulin remains compromised in several locations. Water is topping the levee… which may lead to an eventual failure of the levee system between Poplar Bluff and Qulin.

The area of greatest concern is south and east of Poplar Bluff to HH Highway… and is bounded by the Black River to the east and State Highway 142 to the West. County officials have already evacuated approximately 500 structures… which impacts about 1000 people… in the southeastern portion of the city of Poplar Bluff.

Locations impacted include Poplar Bluff… and rural areas between Poplar Bluff and the Black River north of Qulin.

Precautionary/preparedness actions: A Flash Flood Warning for a levee failure means flash flooding from the a levee failure is occurring or is imminent. Heed instructions from local law enforcement and emergency management officials to evacuate if requested.

Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize the dangers of flooding. If flooding is observed act quickly. Move up to higher ground to escape flood waters. Do not stay in areas subject to flooding when water begins rising.

Since this post, the bad news is that in 3 spots, the levee has failed. Here is the latest bulletin on the failure of the levee on the Black River near Poplar Bluff & Quinn, Missouri.

… A Flash Flood Warning for the failure of a levee on the Black River remains in effect until 730 PM CDT Tuesday for Butler County in southeast Missouri…

* at 1107 am CDT… County emergency management officials indicated the levee along the Black River from Poplar Bluff to Qulin has failed in at least 3 locations. The Black River remains near its crest… which has resulted in a catastrophic failure of the levee system.

The area of greatest concern remains south and east of Poplar Bluff to at least HH Highway… and is bounded by the Black River to the east and State Highway 142 to the west. Flood waters may eventually expand all the way down to the Arkansas border in southern Butler County.

County emergency management officials advise that if you are in this location and have not already evacuated… you need to do so now.

* Locations impacted include Poplar Bluff… and rural areas between Poplar Bluff and the Black River bridge on 53 Highway north of Quinn.

Precautionary/preparedness actions: Flash Flood Warning for a levee failure means flash flooding from a levee failure is occurring or is imminent. Continue to heed instructions from local law enforcement and emergency management officials to evacuate if requested.

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