- Associated Press - Saturday, June 27, 2015

MEREDOSIA, Ill. (AP) - Clear weather Saturday gave Illinois a chance to start drying out, but the effects of a week of consistent rain were still being felt and more rain could be on the way.

The Mississippi River was rising along much of Illinois’ western edge. The National Weather Service reported that the river is expected to crest near 40 feet Tuesday in St. Louis. That’s just short of what’s considered major flooding.

Along the Illinois River in Meredosia in western Illinois, local residents were relying on prisoners and volunteers to fill sandbags to keep rising water in check. The Illinois Emergency Management Agency said Saturday that inmates were filling sandbags in other locations in nearby Scott County, too.

“We’re basically working daylight to dusk,” Phil McCarty of the Jacksonville-Morgan County Office of Emergency Management told the State Journal-Register in Springfield. “We’re not quite that dire at this point, but we’re really watching that precipitation. There’s a 50 percent chance (for more rain) on Sunday.”

The weather service forecasts potential rain Sunday and Monday for much of the state. Through Saturday, the flood-control measures had prevented serious problems.

As of Saturday, flood warnings remained in effect on the Mississippi from Davenport, Iowa, south along the length of the Illinois River and much of the Wabash River from western Indiana south. They also were in effect for other waterways across the southern two-thirds of Illinois.

According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois Highway 100 along the Illinois River is closed due to flooding from near Pearl to Hardin in western Illinois. South of St. Louis, Illinois Highway 3 between Chester and Crain is also closed due to high water.

On the Mississippi in St. Louis, the 40-foot water level means a major flood. The river has only reached that depth at the St. Louis riverfront nine times since 1875, according to the weather service. The most recent time it cracked 40 feet was June 4, 2003.

The river is expected to crest in St. Louis on Tuesday just shy of that mark, at 39.6 feet.

While the area has avoided major problems, high water will likely mean more mosquitoes.

“About two weeks after a flood event is when we start to see an increase in the number of mosquitoes,” Jennifer Meyer, St. Clair County Health Department director of environmental programs, told the Belleville News-Democrat. “But the good news is that they’re very different from the mosquitoes that we see the rest of the time.”

They don’t carry the West Nile Virus, she said.

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