ST. LOUIS — The flood-swollen Mississippi River is going down, but it will be some time before things dry out.
The waterway has crested from Iowa through southern Missouri and Illinois, but it remained above flood stage at many spots Monday. Hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland are under water and hundreds of roads remain closed. And water woes could linger in some rural areas for weeks after the flood is technically over.
"It will be a while," National Weather Service meteorologist Mark Fuchs said. "That's particularly true behind areas where levees have broken. A lot of that water's trapped and can't get back into the channel."
Levee breaches from flooding this spring have been limited to mostly small agricultural levees, most of them in rural Missouri north of St. Louis.
The Mississippi was still 10 feet above technical flood stage at Cape Girardeau and Grafton, Ill. A flood wall protects Cape Girardeau, but not Grafton, where many businesses remain closed.
Fuchs said the river should drop below flood stage by the end of this week in St. Louis, and by next week in many other communities. But it could be near the end of the month before some Missouri and Illinois communities north of St. Louis are below flood stage.
"There is still water draining into the upper end," Fuchs said.
More rain is in the forecast for late this week, but it is not expected to worsen flooding. Rain late this week in the St. Louis area isn't expected to amount to more than a quarter-of-an-inch, Fuchs said.
"We can't quite rest yet but we do like the direction the forecast is going," Fuchs said.
The Illinois River also was dropping but still flooding in some Illinois towns, including LaGrange and Meredosia. The Missouri River was dropping sharply across Missouri and was below flood stage. Heavy rain in parts of the Dakotas, Nebraska and Kansas caused the Missouri to rise in those areas, but not to flood levels.