Levee Districts and Army Engineers Battle the River
Right now the forecast for the Illinois River calls for it to crest at about 26.5 feet at Valley City, in some areas the levees aren't quite that tall, so the Army Corps of Engineers, the local levee district, and a lot of volunteers are working to bring that height up.
"What it entails, getting the sand, filling the bags, and then they bring them down here in dump trucks or on a trailer," says Richard Myers of the Valley City Water and Levee District, "and then they put them on gators and take them up to the levee."
That work is getting done thanks to volunteers and inmates from the department of corrections.
Meanwhile the leaders of the Valley City Levee district nervously watch as more rain falls.
"Luckily, I don't think we're going to get very much here," says Myers, "so that shouldn't affect us much, other than it impedes our work on the levee, makes it much harder on the people."
The Army Corps of Engineers is also on site, forecasting river levels and inspecting levees.
"Technical advice, we provide technical support," says ENgineer Mike ROdgers, "basically we assist the levee districts in any way we can."
They also supply materials including sandbags and plastic sheeting.
And on the other side of the river South of Meredosia, they're setting up what they call a Hesco barrier.
"Basically what these barriers do is you can fill them with localized material, to increase the elevations to prevent water from entering," says ROdgers, "you can install a large amount of protection in a short amount of time."
This barrier would protect Meredosia if a levee farther South fails.
"They're expensive," says Rodgers, "so the main issue with using those is we don't have a lot of resources to get access to those."
That's a big part of the reason why most areas are relying on the tried and true sandbags.
"Well we just have a few more bags to get on," says Myers, "and you don't quit, you don't want to be 1 bag short."
The operation and upkeep of these levees is the responsibility of the levee districts, here in Valley City, that's paid for by a 40 dollar tax on every acre of ground that they cover.
Reporting along the Illinois River, Mike Brooks ABC News Channel 20.