Clarksville flood fight: Mayor to put out call for sandbagging help

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CLARKSVILLE, Mo. – The flood fight is underway in Clarksville. The Pike County community sits along the Mississippi River and has dealt with major flooding issues for years. They could be dealing with a historic battle against Mother Nature this spring.

The Mississippi River is still in its banks at the moment but that is expected to change soon. The river is projected to rise to major flood stage here in a matter of days. And that could threaten the main business district.

“It will cut us off both directions from (Highway) 79,” said Clarksville Mayor Jo Anne Smiley. “There will be water over 79 south of us and north of us. And it will be in this front street here to a level that will prevent anyone from passing through.”

Mayor Smiley said some 1,500 tons of rock and 200 tons of sand have already been brought in to start building a floodwall. Sandbags will also be a part of the wall. The barrier meant to protect about two blocks in the heart of Clarksville’s business district.

“Instead of building just a total sandbag wall, we’re starting with one inch minus rock and bringing it in a ton at a time, putting it down and building it up, and then we will cover it with sandbags,” Smiley said.

Clarksville is no stranger to flooding. It’s basically level with the Mississippi River, which runs right by the town.

Mayor Smiley said past floods along with construction projects on Highway 79 have driven many businesses out of Clarksville. In fact, only a handful of businesses remain in the heart of the town that, at one time, was thriving.

Smiley said some projections say the possible flooding in Clarksville over this spring season could be worse than the most severe flood ever in Clarksville back in 1993.

That’s why the wall being built now won’t be coming down anytime soon.

“It is unnerving because it will cause flooding in places that this town has not seen before,” Smiley said. “We got a good start and it will just build as we go along.”

Smiley said Friday night she’ll put out a major call for sandbagging help. Sandbagging around the wall will start Saturday morning and continue for some time.

Some people are concerned that the wall isn’t covering enough area. In fact, one member of the Clarksville Board of Aldermen resigned because of that issue. However, Smiley said the town can only afford to do so much.

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