Missouri River forecast to riseRead more
With the Missouri River expected to rise again, city crews continued Monday to clean the runways at the Jefferson City Memorial Airport in hopes of opening the airport to limited traffic later this week.
All of the airport's pavements were dry as of Monday, Jefferson City Operation Division Director Britt Smith said. Over half of the runways were clean, and crews were working to clean the remaining half, he added.
However, the recent rain is expected to make the Missouri River rise again. The river is expected to crest at 30 feet between Wednesday and Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.
Besides the Capital View Levee in North Jefferson City, Smith said, a secondary internal levee provides some protection from the floodwaters — up to about 28 feet.
Floodwaters breached the Capital View levee around May 24 and created a 30- to 40-foot gap. The internal levee is in good condition, though, Smith said.
"The river coming back up gives us pause, concern," Smith said. "We were pretty comfortable with 28 feet protection, but now that the forecast just updated and we're looking at 30 (feet), that does mean we could potentially have an overtopping of that interior levee."
If water does overtop the internal levee, Smith said, it would take a long time to fill the protected area. The water also has to go through the breaks in the Capital View Levee before reaching the secondary levee, he added.
"We're certainly concerned, but at the same time, there's a lot of unknowns," Smith said. "We don't know how long it will take to fill. Will the forecast hold, or will it change? It does put us into a precarious situation."
With too many unknowns, crews will continue to clean the pavements at the airport. Smith said he hopes to open the airport to limited daytime traffic later this week, depending on the river levels.
Inspectors will do a more in-depth visual inspection of the runways today, Smith said.
"We could potentially open the next day, but if the river continues to rise, that may not prove (possible)," Smith said. "We've just got to continue to watch that forecast and hope that they're wrong."
The Jefferson City Memorial Airport — and businesses at the airport — closed more than a month ago. The closure "certainly had an impact" on revenue for the city and the businesses, Smith said.
"For a business, a month, that's one-twelfth of your business year," he said. "So, certainly, there's some economic loss that those folks have experienced."
The Memorial Day Weekend Salute to Veterans Corporation canceled its Salute to Veterans Airshow at the airport last month due to anticipated flooding.
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