Thursday, March 19, 2020

Mississippi River Mayors Prepare to Fight Flooding and Coronavirus

Posted By on Thu, Mar 19, 2020 at 11:58 AM

Mayor Rick Eberlin of Grafton, Illinois, pilots a boat full of media during a press tour of flooded areas of his city last year.
  • Mayor Rick Eberlin of Grafton, Illinois, pilots a boat full of media during a press tour of flooded areas of his city last year.


Mayors along the Mississippi River are fighting a two-front battle: containing the coronavirus contagion inside and the coming spring flood season outside.

Dozens of mayors from cities from up and down the Mississippi River gathered Thursday morning in a call with federal agencies to coordinate responses to both the coronavirus pandemic and the spring flood season.

The Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative (MRCTI) issued a report this month that said flooding cost 11 Mississippi-adjacent states $6.2 billion last year. This week, a large storm is passing through the region. Government officials are responding to that storm as they also juggle their coronavirus plans.

Clarksville, Missouri, used temporary flood structures to save their downtown as the Mississippi River moved up Main Street last year. - MISSISSIPPI RIVER CITIES & TOWNS INITIATIVE
  • Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative
  • Clarksville, Missouri, used temporary flood structures to save their downtown as the Mississippi River moved up Main Street last year.

“Our mayors have been in close communication and coordination with [Federal Emergency Management Agency], the Corps of Engineers, [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration], and the [United States Geological Survey],” said Bob Gallagher, mayor of Bettendorf, Iowa. “The good news is all our federal partners are ready to deliver as much mission critical response as we would typically rely on even during this pandemic.”

Some of the response includes keeping first responders, volunteers, and residents safe. Much of this includes extra steps to ensure they’re safe from contagion in response to disasters.

”We are working closely with our state emergency management agencies, public health departments, FEMA, the Corps of Engineers, and the Red Cross to make sure our first responder teams have the personal protective gear they need and we can limit exposure to residents we interact with that may need assistance,” said Rick Eberlin, mayor of Grafton, Illinois. “Also, our smaller towns depend on volunteers for disaster response and thus we are developing protocols to limit contagion.”

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