With looming flood threat, Army Corps of Engineers keeping a close eye on levees

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. – As the floodwaters rise, levee systems all around the St. Louis metropolitan area are under major amounts of pressure from the water.

That’s why the Army Corps of Engineers are teaming up with local levee districts to watch several levees, including the Metro East Sanitary District levee, which runs some 30 miles along the Mississippi River from Hartford to Cahokia.

Fox 2/KPLR 11 spent part of the day with Corps engineers Joe Collum and Dennis Gilmore. They are charged with monitoring the Metro East Sanitary District levee to make sure it’s working well.

“On the levee, the earthen levees that we’re on right now, we look for if there’s any kind of slope stability issues or if there’s, like on the land side, sometimes they’ll be sand boils that come through,” Collum said.

Gilmore said one part of the levee near the Poplar Street Bridge is a concern. He said a sinkhole developed there in 2016 and that could mean trouble. Major work has been in that area and, so far, everything is holding well.

“We’re keeping an eye on it. It’s one of the things we check every day to make sure it doesn’t change,” Gilmore said.

Stephen Adler, the executive director of the district, said in addition to the many miles of levee, there are also 17 pumping stations. He said everyone is in flood fight mode.

“We have continuous patrols between looking for problems in the levee. It could be problems such as under-seepage that is a problem, it could be any sort of a sand boil and we also secure the levees to make sure unauthorized folks aren’t on here,” he said.

Gilmore said he’s confident in the metro east levee system.

Officials with the Army Corps of Engineers said crews will continue to constantly monitor levees until the floodwaters fall. That could take some time.

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