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Flooding still hinders scrap shipments

Keywords: Tags  Illinois River, Mississippi River, flooding, lock and dam closures, Army Corps of Engineers, Coast Guard, Behr Iron & Metal, Dave Rumer Becker Iron & Metal

CHICAGO — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has scheduled the reopening of locks and dams on the upper Mississippi River, but floodwaters were still cresting April 23 and were expected to continue to do so at points along the Illinois and Mississippi rivers over the next several days.

Meanwhile, flooding in places like Peoria, Ill., and St. Louis continued to affect metal shippers unevenly.

Rockford, Ill.-based Behr Iron & Metal Co., which has a location on the Illinois River at Peoria, was still operating April 23 thanks to its decision to raise its shredder, scales and office building 10 feet above the flood plain a couple of years ago, vice president Dave Rumer said. The problem that remains is logistics, he said.

“A large part of our yard is under water, and the road was under about five or six feet of water at one point,” Rumer said. “We cannot get in and out of the yard, making it hard to bring in and ship scrap.”

Down the road, “all the railroad tracks are under water,” he said, adding that an April 19 flash flood could have undermined some of the short-line tracks along the river.

When Behr resumes shipping, “we’ll concentrate on truck first before rail,” Rumer said.

Dan Becker, co-president of Venice, Ill.-based Becker Iron & Metal Inc., north of St. Louis, said his shipments aren’t in jeopardy as he hasn’t been shipping by barge this month.

“Peddler traffic is off a bit, but that’s more of an economic cause versus flooding,” he told AMM. “My facility is not being affected by water as we have water retention ponds and the roads have yet to create a real problem. I cannot say the same for my competitors. It’s hit or miss, depending on their location.”

The Mississippi has crested within the Army Corps of Engineers’ Rock Island District, a spokesman told AMM. Locks 16 through 22 should reopen between April 26 and May 2.

Downstream, the channel near Vicksburg, Miss., where barges broke away from a tow, resulting in at least one barge’s sinking (, April 22), has reopened, U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Ryan Tippets said.

Members of Arlington, Va.-based trade group American Waterways Operators—who operate towboats, tugboats and barges—“are hoping to get through the week and return their operations to normal next week,” spokeswoman Ann McCullough said.

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