Floodwaters continue to rise across the state

Tuesday, September 16, 2008 | 10:01 p.m. CDT; updated 1:13 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Todd Fewell of Columbia wades through flooded water outside of McBaine on Tuesday afternoon. Perche Creek flooded McBaine and the nearby section of the Katy Trail on Sunday following heavy rains.

COLUMBIA — Cleanup continued on Tuesday from the weekend's storms when rivers around Missouri spilled over their banks, shutting down roads, overtopping levees and saturating tens of thousands of acres of farmland.

In river towns around Columbia, flooding blocked a number of roads, displaced a few homeowners and closed nearly 60 miles of the Katy Trail.

Huntsdale Mayor Debby Lancaster said the campgrounds at the south end of town were flooded but homes in town were dry.

In McBaine, much of Route K was closed because of flooding from Perche Creek, forcing residents to make a 30-mile detour to get out of town.

Across the region, portions of the Katy Trail have been closed, according to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

A 40-mile section from Treloar to Mokane was impassible, as were shorter sections around McBaine and Rocheport. The DNR warned that the trail between New Franklin and Boonville was "very rough."

Several rivers continued to rise toward crests — some more than 15 feet above flood stage. Flooding was occurring at several towns along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, including St. Louis. The high water forced the U.S. Coast Guard to close parts of the Missouri and Mississippi to recreational vessels. Officials said strong currents and heavy debris present significant hazards to boats.

Many smaller rivers were also flooding. The Meramec is expected to reach 18 feet above flood stage in Arnold on Thursday. The Moreau River at Jefferson City is already 15 feet above flood stage.

Hundreds of roads were flooded around the state, including about 200 state roads and highways.

Four deaths have been blamed on the weather — three in the St. Louis area, one in Columbia.

There have been near-misses, too.

In the Chesterfield Valley area of west St. Louis County, James Berg was bow hunting with friends on Monday when the surging Missouri River overtopped a small agricultural levee. As floodwaters poured toward them, the hunters fled. But Berg wasn't fast enough.

He eventually found a tree and scurried to the top where a rescue helicopter spotted him, directed a rescue boat his way, and took him to safety.

Around the state, about 10,000 customers of AmerenUE were still without power from the weekend storms.

Most of the outages were in southeast Missouri. Power has been restored to more than 86,000 Ameren customers, mostly in the St. Louis area. Ameren said an additional 360 utility workers from other companies have been called in to help get power restored in southeast Missouri.

Scattered outages were also reported in southwest Missouri.

Missourian reporters Jennifer Gordon and Sarah Herrera contributed to this story.

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