Madison County, IL Flood, May 1943

Worst Flood In 28 Years Occurs Over This County

Wabash Forced To Suspend Operation, Tracks Deep In Water For Distance of Four Miles.

City Sewer Plant Out Of Operation

Dozens Volunteers Remove Valuable Motors and Other Equipment During Night as Water Rises.

Sections of Madison County were in the grip Tuesday of the worst flood in 28 years and the rising waters of Cahokia and Indian Creeks may prevent any relief until Wednesday or later. The Wabash railroad was forced to abandon operations of trains early Tuesday morning. The Edwardsville Sewer Reduction Plant was thrown out of operation this morning and may not be running again for 30 days. Equipment valued at $10,000 was removed from the plant during early morning hours.

The families of HENRY EMSHOUSEN and JOHN WERNER, who live along the creek, were rescued from their homes in motor boats early Tuesday morning. Furnishings and many personal effects had to be abandoned owing to the rapid rise of the water. Stock, hogs and chickens were partly saved.

Hundreds of people went to the junctions of routes 112 and 159 early Tuesday morning to watch water flowing at a high speed along Cahokia Creek Canal and spreading over several hundred acres of low lands. Traffic was suspended on Route 112, but automobiles were able to travel Route 159 during the morning. The water was about fourteen inches deep in the dip west of Junction.

Special precautions were taken as early as Monday morning to prevent damage to equipment at the sewer plant. Motors and other electrical equipment could no be replaced at present and some would be ruined if water soaked. FRANK PEIRCE, the local electrician, spent several hours at the plant Monday to make preparations for the removal of ten motors needed to operate equipment located in the basement.

An inspection was also made of other equipment and the switchboard to determine parts to be taken out when it appeared water would enter the building. Following hard rains of Sunday night and all-day Monday with more that began falling Monday midnight the water steadily approached the pump house. ROBERT PAPROTH, plant superintendent, who had been on the job for 24 hours, called for help about midnight. Arrangements had been made for a dozen city alderman and other employees to answer a hurry call. A tow truck was necessary to life the heavy motors onto trucks to be hauled to a private garage for storage.

At 6 o’clock Tuesday morning the basement was filled with water and men were working in several inches of water on the main floor. Water over the grounds was so deep that motors at the large vats and tanks could not be reached. Motors which become water soaked will later be removed and sent to experts for drying before being placed in use again.

The water on the west side of the Wabash tracks is three or four feet higher than the grade of the sewer plant. At several points the water was flowing over the railroad tracks filling the large basin on the east side. The water at the sewer plant may be three feet deep before the great lake on the opposite side of the railroad subsides.

A bypass was provided when the sewer plant was erected. There are methods for emergency handling of waste. A week or long may be necessary before workers will be able to install motors and other equipment at the plant. PIERCE told Mayor SCHMIDT that a month may be necessary before operation of the plant will be possible.

Similar conditions existed along the Wabash Railroad in August, 1915, but the water was much deeper at that time. In the previous flood the water was several feet deep in the station. It’s hardly possible that water will enter the station at present. The tracks are covered five to six feet between Edwardsville and Carpenter. The combined facilities of the old creek channel and the canal are insufficient to handle the great volume of water.

G.H. SIDO, general manager of the Wabash came here Tuesday morning to look over the situation. Operations of Wabash trains were suspended during the night between Litchfield and St. Louis. The trains are operating over the Illinois Central between the two points. Passenger, oil and other freight trains are using the detour. SIDO said the resumption of service may be possible by Wednesday night.

The dam at the Dunlap Lake of 125 acres has been carefully watched for several days and club members worked until 10 o’clock Monday night to increase drainage facilities at the spillway. The opening was extended and sandbagged and the level of the water was reduced about one foot during the night. The water was about five feet over the top of the drain during most of Monday. Breaking of the dam would have sent about 4,000,000 more gallons o f water into the flooded Cahokia Creek bottoms.

State police headquarters reported that the only route from Edwardsville to St. Louis was over 66 to 157 and south to either the road west from Peters Station or over National Trail. The water was two feet deep between Mitchell and Nameoki. State police believed that without additional rains the roads will be open for traffic by Wednesday.

Most of the clerks employed at the courthouse who come from Alton, Wood River and East Alton did not attempt to drive through the water on Route 159. Arriving at the place where the water covered the highway, they returned home.

Edwardsville Intelligencer, Edwardsville, IL 18 May 1943