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West Alton residents evacuating as Mississippi flood waters top levee

WEST ALTON, MO (KTVI) - In St. Charles County, residents and pilots were moving to higher ground. County officials issued an evacuation notice early Tuesday for folks in West Alton. Homeowners who weren’t leaving stashed belongings above the predicted height of the rising river.

Robert Wunderlich and his wife brought saw horses into their kitchen and covered them with big sheets of plywood. On top of that, they stacked all sorts of item they treasured.

“It’s a pain, but I love this community. I want to stay here. This is one of those things—being a river rat—you got to deal with sometimes,” Wunderlich said.

Flooding is nothing new to some residents. More than one home had boats tied up out front; there was no water there yet, but they’re prepared.

At Smartt Airfield, there was plenty of preparation underway Tuesday.

“I haven’t seen it come up this fast before,” said pilot Bradley Rae.

Owners of planes acted quickly to move some 60 planes out of harm’s way. When the river crests, much of the airport is expected to be underwater. In some places, water will be a few feet deep but only inches in others. Some pilots decided to fly their aircraft to other airports for safe keeping. No one’s expecting another great flood, but they want to be ready.

“This is not as bad as ‘93 but it’s getting up there,” said Dennis Wiss, Smartt Airfield director. He said they began warning pilots of potential problems beginning Sunday.

The Commemorative Air Force, which is located on the airport, raised their World War II planes higher off the ground and hoped for the best for the ones they couldn’t move.

“Any flood water that comes into the facility it’s going to get us wet,” said Bob Lawrence, the wing leader at the organization.

He’s hopeful only the plane’s tires will get wet and the flood will not cause any damage.

The Mississippi River is forecasted to crest in Alton, IL on Thursday at 38 feet, 17 feet over flood stage. That's the second highest crest of the river, behind only the 42.72 feet crest on August 1, 1993.

There has been as much as 12" of rain over the last three days across the FOX 2 News viewing area. Now, historic flooding is underway. Several area rivers will crest higher than record crests of December 1982 and Summer of 1993. This includes the Bourbeuse River at Union, MO and the Mississippi River at Chester, IL. For the latest river levels and crest information, click here.

More information:  LIVE Updates: Days of flooding closes roads, forces evacuations