Midwest Threatened with More Flooding

July 22, 2010

The Mississippi River is back above flood stage from the southern tip of Iowa through Missouri, leaving some communities on edge as more storms threaten to bring more water.

Parts of southern Iowa, northern Missouri and western Illinois received 5-7 inches of rain earlier this week – one northeast Missouri county reported 10 inches. The Mississippi and its tributaries were still high from flooding earlier this month.

The National Weather Service expects flooding from Keokuk, Iowa, south through Cape Girardeau, Mo. Several smaller rivers are expected to see near-record flood levels, including the Chariton and the three branches of the Fabius in northern Missouri.

Strong thunderstorms brought heavy rain and flash flooding to parts of Missouri, Illinois and Iowa on July 20, shutting down at least three major highways and forcing evacuations and water rescues.

The storms caused many streams and creeks to flow out of their banks. Dozens of roads were closed for part of the day, including sections of U.S. 36 near Hannibal, Mo., U.S. 61 at the Iowa-Missouri border and U.S. 63 near Kirksville, Mo.

The storm prompted Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to extend an emergency declaration he issued last month. Severe storms hit Missouri in mid-June and have continued since then. The governor said extension of the declaration to Aug. 19 will allow state agencies to continue responding and working with local emergency officials.

The worst of the damage appeared to be in Hannibal, Mark Twain’s hometown. Swollen creeks and overburdened drainage systems caused flooding at the General Mills plant, forcing it to close. Emergency director John Hark said several homes and businesses were flooding, including a day care center, where 15 children were safely evacuated. The Missouri State Highway Patrol and the state Water Patrol were brought in to help with rescues.

Homes and businesses were also damaged in Louisiana, Mo., where several inches of mud made it into several buildings and caked roadways.

Many areas had 5-plus inches of rain. Putnam County in far northeast Missouri reported 9 inches; neighboring Schuyler County had 10 inches.

The Weather Service says more storms are possible through the weekend.

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