Mount Carmel Officials Say Stay Off Levee - Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

Mount Carmel Officials Say Stay Off Levee

Reporter: Kennan Oliphant

Web Producer: Amber Griswold

You see it along the banks of all the rising rivers: gawkers, trying to get a glimpse of the flood damage.

But officials in Mount Carmel, Illinois say all those spectators could damage the levee there.

Mount Carmel is where the White River and the Wabash meet, creating a rush of water spilling over its banks creeping up on the last barrier separating a river and a town.

Mother nature's power can draw many to the water's edge, but officials say this type of sightseeing, may not be safe.

Mount Carmel Illinois Emergency Management Teams want to warn the public: Don't walk or use motorized vehicles on the levee.

Colby Rigg, Assistant Coordinator for Emergency Management, said, "Right now on the levee the levee is real spongy, we've had a hard freeze in December and now with all the rain, we're not allowing people to be up on the levee with four wheelers."

The flood water is rising and moving in fast.

At ten feet above flood stage, the levee is the only barrier keeping the water off city streets.

Rigg explained, "Pedestrians on the levee, we're doing that for their own safety. If they're on the levee and something happens we wouldn't know about it. We can't guarantee a rescue if they're on the levee without permission, that's why we closed off traffic to the levee to pedestrians and four wheelers."

Andrew Bailey, who patrols the levee to check for leaks, said, "Basically stay off the levee, that's my advice."

Bailey says so far the levee is doing its job.

"I haven't seen no bubbles coming up which means we know it's going to be seeping through and we haven't seen anything seeping through on the other side of the levee, but we've seen a lot of people go out and get on top of the levee."

Rigg says this is the biggest flood Mount Carmel has seen since the 1970's.

He's confident nothing will happen as long as residents listen to the warning.

Rigg said, "We're not expecting any breaks but you never know."

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