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Emergency Sandbagging Plugs Spewing Levee in Naples
As the Illinois River flows down through central Illinois, several area communities are seeing record-level crests.
Seeping water is plunging crews into action as they work to prevent levee failures.
An assembly line of emergency sandbaggers in Naples is trying to make sure that the dirt levee protecting the community holds strong. Workers say it is a massive effort all to prevent a massive catastrophe.
“So we're putting sandbags up over the top to create pressure to keep it in place," Drainage Commissioner Jim Freeman said.
Rising waters are forging a boil in the side of the dirt levee as seeping water makes its way from the river into town.
“It's getting into some homes," Naples Mayor Sam Columbus said. "And we have seep water in our town hall right now."
Columbus said there are about four inches of standing water on the Naples Town Hall floor. Several families have evacuated after experiencing the same thing, but others are banding together to make sure the flood water doesn't get any deeper.
“We're just holding on," Columbus said. "The worst is not over. The worst is yet to come."
As the high waters flow downsteam, local inmates and volunteers stand on spongy ground--the rain only adding to this bubbling beast.
“The seep water is going to get worse until the water gets off the levee," Freeman said. "Until the river goes down enough that we don't have any pressure."
Freeman said it is the color of this seeping water that matters. The major boil has been plugged, but crews are on the prowl for more like it.
“If it's muddy, that means it's moving dirt, and it's probably coming from the levee, and that's bad," Freeman said.
But most of the seeping water in Naples is “good." It is clear, hopefully an indication of the road ahead.
Meanwhile, crews say the work is not over yet because even though the river level has been rising pretty rapidly, it is going to fall much more slowly.