UPDATE: Kinder calls for more volunteers in northeast Mo. and mobilizes National Guard

Saturday, June 14, 2008 | 2:26 p.m. CDT; updated 4:00 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

HANNIBAL, Mo. — Lt. Governor Peter Kinder on Saturday pleaded for volunteers to help northeast Missouri prepare sandbags as water levels on the Mississippi rose and possible floods loomed.

Kinder said he is asking residents to help with sandbagging efforts in Hannibal, Canton and Alexandria, among other communities.

“Local authorities there are simply overwhelmed, and residents are busy protecting their own properties,” said Kinder, who is acting governor as Gov. Matt Blunt is on a trip out of state. “I know Missourians will respond to our call.”

Kinder said not enough volunteers were on the scene Saturday, despite requests on Friday for help.

Later Saturday, Kinder said he had mobilized 165 Missouri National Guard troops to help the communities. Three teams of 50 soldiers will report on Sunday to Clarksville, Canton and Hannibal to help with sandbagging, with 15 other soldiers providing levee monitoring in Canton.

The Missouri Department of Corrections also sent 93 minimum-security prisoners from correctional institutions around the state to help affected counties with sandbagging.

Kinder said the state is asking for volunteers and sandbagging equipment and urged citizens who can help to call 211 to be connected with an area that needs assistance.

Mississippi River towns north of St. Louis are bracing for crests next week that should come very close to records set in the Great Flood of 1993.

At one location, Federal Locks and Dam No. 22 in Saverton, south of Hannibal, the crest will exceed the record level set in ‘93, the National Weather Service said.

The river at Hannibal is expected to reach 31.7 feet on June 20, a tenth of a foot shy of the old record of 31.8 feet set in 1993.

The river at St. Louis is expected to crest at 39.6 feet on June 20, 10 feet lower than the 49.5 feet record set in 1993.

The State Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have distributed 900,000 sandbags to communities at risk of flooding in northeast and northwest Missouri.

The local counties were still asking for help and volunteers Saturday afternoon while officials considered other options to get the areas more assistance, said Terri Durdaller, spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has dispatched flood-fight experts to work with levee districts north of St. Louis.

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