Savanna preparing for higher second crest


It’s crunch time in Savanna.

People there hope to finish work Wednesday to secure the city from wave two of Mississippi River flooding.

City leaders told Local 4 News they expect a 21-foot crest by Sunday based on data from the gauge north of Fulton.

Since Monday, they’ve been working on finishing the preparations because the river is expected to start a dramatic rise Wednesday night.

Just a few short weeks ago, the entire area behind downtown businesses on the west side of the railroad tracks was submerged.

The city told Local 4 News the Mississippi River here reached 20.4 feet.

Right now, they’re expecting to go even higher. Twenty-one feet and that’s why they’re fortifying the defenses. 

Mayor Chris Lain said, “Expected something to come along. We didn’t expect it to be bigger than the last obviously or we would be rushing here at the last minute.”

Working against the clock of a rising river and Cheryl Rowland came from Lanark to help with the effort.

Volunteer Cheryl Rowland said, “They need the help now. Today.”

And Jennifer Hardy from nearby Shannon, Illinois said communities helping each other is what they do.

Jennifer Hardy said, “They need the help, and if my town needed up, I’d want them to come and help us.”

In that busy rush, Kayla Klein is volunteering to protect her town.

Kayla Klein said, “I’m going to stay until my arms can’t move and then work tomorrow is going to be unbearable but you know, it’s one day of giving as much as I can.”

And when she thanks the other volunteers.

Kayla Klein said, “Thank you guys for jumping in, seriously.”

It’s sincere appreciation because this effort is for her family.

Kayla Klein said, “My dad actually has a gym downtown, and you know, his basement got flooded.”

At The Answer Fitness, a wall of sandbags helped minimize the impact of the last crest for owner Mark Klein.

Owner Mark Klein said, “Right now, really what we get is groundwater coming up causes of so much pressure.”

However round two is requiring to build the barrier taller and wider for the several blocks it covers.

Across the several blocks it covers, people are working to raise it a foot and even two feet in places. 

It’s so they don’t have to deal with the river water leaking in and causing a bigger mess. 

Mark Klein said, “Disassemble it a little bit and add another foot because this round is going to deeper and it was like six inches to the top last time.”

“Expect to start seeing that impact tonight and throughout the day today, so today is really our day to get all of this done. What we’re doing is widening our flood wall and raising it about a foot to two feet,” said Lain.

Mark said he owes a debt to the city and fire department, volunteers and inmates at Thomson Prison for the protection that’s saving him and many other businesses for fighting this themselves and allowing their doors to stay open. 

Mark Klein said, “Ten businesses on this block and several up and down but the hundreds of people to poured out to help us didn’t help us.”

That’s among the most visible bright spots of this high water.

Kayla Klein said, “To have people that want to help us that aren’t necessarily directly affected or that work in the area, I mean, it’s heartwarming.”

The city said they’ve been seeing the impacts of the flooding since the first week of April and really haven’t had much relief since.

The mayor also told they’re hoping to finish up sandbagging on Thursday, just to make sure they have enough sandbags on hand for Sunday’s crest.

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