The river levels continued to drop in the St. Joseph area on Monday, but the signs of damage done by the floodwaters were beginning to show.
One of the first areas in St. Joseph to be impacted by the flood last week was Riverfront Park and the Riverwalk. According to Jeff Atkins, deputy director of Parks Recreation and Civic Facilities, it may be the last to be restored.
“The trail is going to be delayed for weeks and weeks while we wait for it to dry out,” Atkins said. “It’s not just an easy thing to go in and sweep the walks clean. It will have multiple inches if not feet of silt in the area that has settled onto the walk in the surrounding areas.”
While the trail took on plenty of water, Atkins said no damage was done to the Remington Nature Center.
“The building withstood the flood like it was designed to do so,” Atkins said. “What we’re most concerned about right now, what will keep us from opening because of damage, is our sewage lift station.”
Although the building remained unharmed, it could be a while until the plumbing system is able to be used, and the department was considering using portable toilets for the time.
The real concern for the city is Heritage Park and its concession building.
“We’re are still at the mercy of the river right now,” Atkins said “There’s still 5 or 6 feet of water standing throughout the complex, which has come down, but it’s still a significant amount of water. And we won’t be able to get in and assess it until the water is gone.”
Atkins said that while many things were removed from the building, some damage is expected, and may cause concessions to be closed for recreational leagues. Atkins said the events may be moved to other fields in town if the water affects the ground too much.
Across town, the Public Works and Transportation Department was facing issues at City Yards, another area that flooded early last week. Like the Parks Department, director Andy Clements said Public Works and Transportation would have to wait to fully assess the damage.
“We’ll need the river to recede a little bit more, and get that to dry out; we did sandbag that building,” Clements said. “We do know that we’ve had a boiler fail and had a water line collapse.”
Clements also spent part of Monday consulting on some sewage issues that South St. Joseph Industrial Sewer was facing after a large hole opened up in the parking lot Sunday morning.
“It appears that a section or joint, possibly from a gravity line that comes in from the north had failed, and then it washed out the area around it and dropped the parking lot around it as well,” Clements said.
According to Industrial Sewer, no issues had arisen in waste management at the time, but the Army Corps of Engineers would be monitoring the hole that was temporarily filled with 6 tons of rock.
“While the river is falling, and that’s really good news, NOAA and the Corps of Engineers continue to try to make the point that there’s a high risk of high river stage again for the next several months,” Clements said.