SAUGET, Ill. — As Metro East Sanitary District workers put the first support beams into the ground at their the C-17 gate in Sauget, Illinois, workers are talking about vandalism at a previous work site.
Three kids were arrested Sunday when National Guard members saw them removing sandbags from the floodgates on Water St. and throwing them into the river.
"We're going to throw the book at them," Sanitary District Deputy Executive Director Donald Sawicki said. "That's serious. That is malicious destruction."
Sawicki said the district's already installed four floodgates. The C-17 location on Monsanto Avenue will be their fifth -- and hopefully their last.
"Everybody knows the routine, it's a flow, you just keep going," Sawicki said of the well-orchestrated operation. "Every second, something is being done."
It's the first time they've gated this road since 1993, and Sawicki said they waited as long as they could because once it is closed off, workers at the affected industrial park can't pass through anymore.
MESD Supervisor Randy Presswood was here the last time they installed the gates, and -- for him -- this work is personal.
"I live in American Bottoms," Presswood said. "I live down here, and I have a couple of homes that are nice homes. I don't want to lose them."
As the crews continued the three-hour long process, Presswood took 5 On Your Side's Sara Machi on a tour of the gates already in place, where you can see what's at stake: Flooding and wildlife have taken over businesses on the river side of the levee.
National Weather Service predictions show the river will likely reach the base of C-17 gate, so the work crew is placing plastics and sandbags at the bottom. They need to stop at least 90-percent of seepage underneath.
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