ALTON, IL - While winter weather is top of mind for lots of people right now, some are already raising concerns about the potential for another year of significant spring flooding.
It was a wintery scene along the Mississippi River at the Melvin Price Locks and Dam in Alton on Wednesday evening...ice along parts of the river.
But inside the facility, an event focused on preparing for possible spring flooding.
Several groups were on hand including the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the National Weather Service.
Flooding on the minds of many after last year`s historic floods devastated communities like Alton and Grafton.
The Weather Service says there are early warning signs for potential flooding problems this spring.
“We have snowpack building to the north so you think Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin. All of that snow that melts get into the rivers so that`s one concern. Another concern is current river levels now. Here in St. Louis, this is the highest our river has been on the Mississippi River this time of year in the history of our river data,” explained Kevin Dietsch with the National Weather Service in Weldon Spring.
Rachel Torbert, the Deputy Director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, added, “We`re asking residents to just be prepared. Have that kit ready, you know your emergency preparedness kit, check about that flood insurance.”
Jeffrey Miller was at the open house inquiring about flood insurance.
His home between Alton and Grafton nearly flooded last year.
“We`re very concerned in our small community up there after going through the flood of last spring,” said Jeffrey.
“We always are constantly monitoring river levels,” said Katey Vankirk who co-owns Morrison`s Irish Pub.
It sits at the lowest point in Alton.
The restaurant has weathered several floods and was closed for three months last year because of flooding.
“The best thing to do now is just you know for the time that we are open to get as much business as we can to try to build back up,” explained Vankirk.
She added, “Unfortunately you can`t control a flood. We wish we could.”
The Weather Service says another flooding red flag is that a lot of low-lying land is still saturated with floodwaters from last year.
The Weather Service is expected to come out with its spring flood outlook in mid-February.
The organizers of Wednesday`s event in Alton are putting on three sessions in different Illinois communities.
Last week they are in Murphysboro and next week they are going to Moline.