Blacksnake Creek

Blacksnake Creek was high due to rainfall Thursday, but was not expected to flood at this time. On Thursday, city crews were seen clearing large logs and debris from this screen that leads the creek underground.

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During the St. Joseph City Council’s weekly pandemic meeting, it was announced that rainfall could cause flooding across the city, including the North Side from Blacksnake Creek.

Toward the end of the meeting, Director of Public Works Andy Clements announced that he had just learned of a potential flood threat in the Blacksnake Creek area due to heavy rains. Ultimately, that turned out to be a false alarm, but city crews were still forced to react.

Just after the meeting, News-Press NOW spoke with Clements on the phone while he drove to the potential flood site.

“We’re really getting close to overtopping and maybe having flooding, yes, it’s getting really close,” Clements said at that time. “We’re looking at it really, really hard and making sure that everything is OK up here.”

City crews could be seen using a backhoe to pull logs off of a screen where the open creek goes underground near the ballfields off of Karnes Road. The water level was high, but did not breach the creek bed.

Clements said he and his crews were preparing for a “long night,” but early reports that suggested imminent flooding were inaccurate.

“The good news is the initial reports of it being close to going over, thankfully, were incorrect and it looks like we’re in good shape so far,” Clements said. “Right now, at this time, we’re good and safe.”

He said a major “cloud burst” could possibly change the situation, but flooding was not expected to happen on Thursday night.

Some, including Mayor Bill McMurray were concerned about how the situation could be so serious when the new Blacksnake tunnel has been completed. Clements said the tunnel is not a flood control system, though a detention basin that would prevent flooding in the area was considered and, ultimately, voted down by the former City Council in 2016.

A representative from The United Way spoke with the council on Thursday and said current rainfall is causing people affected by the Contrary Creek flood on the city’s South Side to be re-impacted as water has nowhere to go with drainage systems plugged or full.

During the weekly COVID-19 pandemic work session, the City Council saw data from Professor Gary Clapp of Missouri Western State University, which suggests a downward trend in new virus cases when looking at the 14-day average. Clapp said the city is averaging about five new cases per day and is holding steady at that number aside from a few small spikes.

The council decided not to make any changes to the current mask order, which requires face coverings to be worn in any retail store of 10,000 square feet or more.

Brendan Welch can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPWelch.