Marseilles dam safe, but significant damage to 5 of 8 gates

A crane known as the HERCULES unloads cargo from one of the submerged barges near the Marseilles Dam in Marseilles, Ill., April 24, 2013. Salvage operations continued to remove the remaining barges. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class John Schleicher. (US Corps of Engineers)
April 26, 2013 10:02:10 AM PDT
The Illinois River lock at Marseilles remains closed as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers assesses damages after seven barges struck the dam.

Wednesday, much of Marseilles resembles a scrapyard: piles of debris are taller than people and homes are literally a shell of their former selves.

They broke free from a tugboat during a major storm that sent the Illinois River up over its banks and led Marseilles residents to evacuate their homes. Corps officials couldn't get to the dam to survey until a few days later, April 21, when the waters had begun to recede. That's also when homeowners started to get a look at their damaged homes, some of which are a total loss.

Initial assessments by the Corps determined the dam is safe, but will require significant repairs on five of its eight gates. Officials also determined there's no risk to area residents.

The Marseilles Lock and Dam, which is operated by the Rock Island District of the Army Corps of Illinois, maintains a navigational pool between the Marseilles damn and Dresden dam, which control the level of the river.

"Corps of Engineers dam safety officials and structural engineers are working to determine the extent of the damage caused by the barge impacts and the high river flows," said Tom Heinold, deputy chief of the Operations Division for the Rock Island District, in a statement. "As soon as conditions permit, the Corps will perform engineering analyses for use in developing repair and recovery plans, ensuring that the dam can be returned to an operational status as soon as possible."

Additional structural inspections and scour surveys will be completed after the barges are removed.

Marseilles is about 75 miles southwest of Chicago.


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