Flooding Continues On The Illinois River

Thursday, March 20th 2008, 7:19 pm
By: News On 6

The rain has stopped, but the flooding of the Illinois River is still a big headache for people in and around Tahlequah.  The News On 6's Jeffrey Smith reports the Illinois River normally has three feet of water.  But, because of all the rain, the water level in Tahlequah has flooded to more than 22 feet.

All that flooding has left a lot of damage in its wake.  Businesses say they're just trying to pick up the pieces.

In Tahlequah, seeing three boys paddle a canoe along the Illinois River normally wouldn't raise any eyebrows, but they aren't canoeing on the river. They're paddling over what should be the family swimming pool.

"We had the water three foot over the pool before, but now it's been eight foot over the pool, and this is the worst we've ever seen it," said Kyle Eller.

Kyle Eller helps run All-American Floats, a summer water park that also rents out river canoes.  But, two straight days of rain has done a lot of damage.

"It's been horrible. The pump room in the water slide was completely flooded," said Kyle Eller.

Standing next to the water slide at All-American Floats in Tahlequah, you're more than seven stories in the air. And from there, you can get an excellent view of how bad the flooding really is.

"It's the sixth highest water levels, here in Tahlequah, that's been recorded," said Ed Fite of the Scenic Rivers Commission.

He says 10 inches of rain this week has raised the water level to seven times its normal levels.

"The problem that we have right now is the damages to the structures, to the campgrounds. A lot of campgrounds will take several days to dry out," said Ed Fite.

Store Owner Barbara Kelley says the water Thursday morning was up above her head.

"This'll be our seventh summer, and we've never ever seen water this high," said Barbara Kelley.

The Scenic Rivers Commission says the waters should recede back to normal levels by this weekend.  But, it could take several weeks for all those property owners to clean up the debris and mud that's left behind.    

Find more stories on NewsOn6.com's Local News page.