Norm Gallup, emergency coordinator for the American Radio Emergency Services (ARES) and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), talked to the Community Services Forum about his organizations’ monitoring of the Urban Design Levee during this year’s flood event.

Gallup’s presentation took place during August 14 meeting.

The ARES and CERT volunteers patrolled the levee, which protects the city of Ste. Genevieve during flood events on the Mississippi River, for 49 days this year as the river measured above 40 feet — major flooding stage — on the gauge at Chester, Illinois.

The volunteers mark areas where water may be seeping through the levee.

“They’re not made to hold back water permanently,” Gallup said of levees. “They’re made to hold back water for a very short period of time, and when you have water on there for extended amounts of time, you’re going to have issues.

“Our whole purpose of being there is to catch the issues as they’re happening or very shortly thereafter, so that we can contain them. Once we can contain them, we can manage them and therefore keep the city dry.”

The ARES/CERT volunteers have had a busy stretch in recent years with three flood events in the last five years. A flood in the winter of 2015-16 was followed by one in the spring of 2017. This year’s flood had the second-highest crest in recorded history, behind only 1993.

“We’ve seen quite a bit more [seepage] this year than we have in the previous two floods,” Gallup said, “but we were flooded [at 35 feet or more] for five months."

See complete story in the August 28 edition of the Herald.