Many Vandalia area residents began to get concerned early last week when it was discovered that the city’s lagoon had breached after receiving about six inches of rainfall.
Audrain County Emergency Management Director Steve Shaw said the breach took place on the southside of the lagoon and began going over the top.
In the southwest corner on the southwest part of the levy, there was some erosion.
The Department of Natural Resources arrived to the scene and met with city crews and county emergency management officials.
About 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, June 23, Shaw was joined by Darren Smiley and Alan Winders.
To help in repairing the breach, officials requested geofabric.
When working on roadways, geofabric provides a heavy duty water proof liner to pour asphalt on. It’s used to hold the material that is put on top in place.
They located one roll in the county and two in Callaway County.
A roll was stretched over the breach and with a considerable amount of rock on it, the breach was stopped.
With concerns for safety, GPS mapping was done over top of the lagoon to give officials an idea, if there was more of a breach, where the fluids would go.
“Once we identified that no residents would be impacted by the breach, we went from safety to property protection,” Shaw added.
Through the help of the DNR, officials were able to rent pumps from the St. Louis area.
Also known as “trash” pumps, the 12” diameter pumps are capable of pulling 1.5 million gallons of the lagoon in a three hour time.
Before the pumps were in place, an urgent bulletin was issued for Vandalia residents asking them to limit flushing and bathing for the next 12 hours, starting around 3:30 p.m.
“We didn’t know how much (more) rain was coming in,” Shaw added. “The repair was just made on the levy. There was still concern about a catastrophic breach. So we wanted folks to maintain to cut back a little bit to get the surface water down to resolve operations.”
Shaw said it took a while to off-load the pumps and get them to the levys.
He said that city crews did an “outstanding job” fabricating some things that helped with placing the pumps.
With all of the rain flooding the property of the lagoon’s neighbors, officials were given permission to pump water away from the lagoon into that area.
Help was received from the Ralls County EMA to fix the road and maintain the road to the levys for crews.
With Pump 1 starting at 5:30 p.m., Pump 2 started at 10:30 p.m.
By Thursday morning, 3 1/2’ of surface water had been pumped out of the lagoon and DNR gave officials the approval to stop.
Shaw said the lagoon’s levels are still being monitored and that the geofabric repairs are holding. He’s hoping for some dry weather to stiffen up the levy because it is saturated.
Pumps will be returned near press time back to SEMA.
“If you count the Vandalia levy with all of the storm damage in the county (Audrain), you have about $114,000 in damage because of these storms,” Shaw added. “And we’re still waiting on Laddonia and Mexico on their numbers.”
Shaw noted that since the storm is related to a prior storm declaration, it is possible the City of Vandalia and Emergency Management officials will get money back for work on the levy.
“Right now we qualify so that’s a good sign,” he said.