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Midwest flooding is worst in Missouri

Monday, May 17, 2010 | 7:48 p.m. CDT
Flooding on the Mississippi River in St. Louis blocked the entrance to the President Casino on Sunday, forcing it to close. Continual rain over the past week has caused flooding on several rivers in Missouri, and flash flooding has killed two people.

ST. LOUIS — Several Midwestern rivers are at or near their crest after the latest round of spring storms, but with more rain in the forecast, flood-watchers aren't ready to relax just yet.

Heavy rain fell last week and through the weekend, causing the Mississippi, Missouri, Illinois, Meramec, Grand, Fabius and other rivers to rise. Missouri was hardest hit, but other states in the nation's midsection were seeing mostly minor flooding.

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The rains also caused flash floods that have been blamed in two deaths in Missouri, both in the northeast corner of the state.

Forecasters last week expected things to dry out after Monday, but National Weather Service hydrologist Mark Fuchs said the forecast has been revised and rain is expected in parts of the Midwest on and off for the rest of the week. In fact, southern Missouri and Illinois could get up to 3 inches of rain Wednesday.

"If you put the right amount of rain in the wrong place right now, we could have more significant flooding," Fuchs said Monday. "We don't see it right now, but the possibility is out there."

The Mississippi River has already crested a few feet above flood stage in the Missouri towns of Canton, Hannibal and Clarksville, and at Quincy, Ill. It is expected to crest at about 5 feet above flood stage on Wednesday in St. Louis and is expected to reach 7½ feet above flood stage in Cape Girardeau on Saturday and to get to nearly 10 feet above flood stage in Chester, Ill., on Thursday.

An emergency management official in Chester said the water was unlikely to threaten a state prison there.

For the most part, the high water was simply a nuisance.

The President Casino on the St. Louis riverfront closed Sunday because of the flooding Mississippi River — the second time this year the President has been forced to shut down because of high water.

The Missouri Department of Transportation said about 30 roads are closed in spots because of flooding, including Route 94 in St. Charles County, Route 95 in Ozark County and Route 162 in New Madrid County. The Mississippi, still rising in southern Missouri's Ste. Genevieve County, could shut down a section of U.S. 61 there.

MoDOT spokesman Jorma Duran said there was no evidence that flooding had damaged any roads or bridges, but officials won't know for sure until the water goes down.

Susie Stoner of the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency warned drivers against trying to make it through roads with water on them. Both deaths in Missouri occurred when motorists drowned after their cars became submerged.

In central Illinois, crews cautiously relieved Lake Springfield — swollen by roughly 2 inches of rain overnight — of excess water at Spaulding Dam, warning residents downstream in low-lying areas along Sugar Creek of flooding potential.

 


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G Hammons May 18, 2010 | 11:07 a.m.
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