President Casino in St. Louis Closed by Flooding, Again

May 5, 2009

In most places, water reaching a couple of feet above technical flood stage is no big deal. That’s little solace at the President Casino. The Mississippi River casino near the Gateway Arch in St. Louis is closed for the fifth time since early 2008 as a result of flooding.

The casino was shut down on May 3, though it should reopen within days as the river level is expected to fall below flood stage at St. Louis by May 7.

Minor to moderate flooding continued at several points along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. Smaller rivers were flooded, too, in large part due to heavy rains last week in several parts of the state.

But outside of the closing of the casino, flooded roads and flooded agricultural land, this year’s flooding was causing few major problems.

“I would call it normal spring flooding,” National Weather Service hydrologist Mark Fuchs said. “We get this flood once every two, three, four years.”

The Missouri Department of Transportation cited dozens of road closings in virtually all parts of the state due to flooding. Those roads included sections of Highway 94 in St. Charles County, making access to the region’s popular wineries difficult. Highway 95 in Ozark County in southern Missouri was also closed.

River levels were mostly topping out or falling. The Mississippi peaked over the weekend at around 3 feet above flood stage in Hannibal, Louisiana and Winfield, but should be back within its banks by Saturday at all three towns.

Further south, the river was still on the rise. The Mississippi was at 36.6 feet in Cape Girardeau Monday morning – 4.6 feet above flood stage – heading toward an expected crest of 37.9 feet on Wednesday. Downtown Cape Girardeau is protected by a flood wall, and no major problems were expected.

St. Louis seemed to be getting the worst of it. The boulevard that runs between the river and the Gateway Arch was flooded, leaving tourists to scramble as they sought to get to popular riverfront spots at Laclede’s Landing and to the Arch grounds.

On the Missouri, water was receding quickly at many towns. The river at the German village of Hermann in eastern Missouri was 3.3 feet above flood stage and dropping. The Missouri was expected to be back below flood stage at Hermann and nearby Washington on Tuesday, and at St. Charles on Wednesday.

The good news was a forecast that called for little or no rain in much of the state through at least Thursday, though parts of southern Missouri could see up to 2 inches of rain Thursday and Friday, Fuchs said.

Fuchs said the flooding could have been worse because weekend rains didn’t amount to much.

“I’d say we caught a break,” he said.

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