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Work done on Mississippi River levee’s drain damaged in 2013

January 10, 2021 GMT

GRAND TOWER, Ill. (AP) — Dry weather last summer allowed work to resume to finally finish repairs to a Mississippi River levee damaged in 2013 in southwestern Illinois when a drainage pipe failed, officials say.

A year after the drain failed along the Big Muddy levee in the city of Grand Tower, then-Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation allowing the Jackson County Board to sell up to $1.5 million in bonds to pay for repairs.

But that project had not been completed by the time near record-setting flooding hit the area in January 2016, prompting evacuations. And lingering wet ground conditions after the flood delayed the completion of the drainage pipe repairs as wet weather persisted year after year.

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For residents living around the weakened levee, sandbagging became an increasingly common occurrence as river flooding posed a threat to the compromised structure.

However, a rare three-month dry spell last summer provided the dry conditions needed to resume and complete the drainage pipe repairs, Shawn McMahan, the Grand Tower Levee District commissioner, told The Southern Illinoisan in Carbondale.

Jackson County Board member Julie Peterson said it feels good to finally have something other than a potential evacuation order to pass on to residents in Grand Tower, a city located about 80 miles (129 kilometers) southeast of St. Louis.

“I’m also so thrilled to have good news,” she said.