The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

April 21, 2013

Crests approaching in several towns along Mississippi River

CLARKSVILLE, Mo. — Those fighting floods in several communities along the Mississippi River were mostly successful Sunday despite the onslaught of water, but an ominous forecast and the growing accumulation of snow in the upper Midwest tempered any feelings of victory.

The surging Mississippi was at or near crest at several places from the Quad Cities south to near St. Louis — some reaching 10 feet above flood stage. Problems were plentiful: Hundreds of thousands of acres of swamped farmland as planting season approaches; three people died; roads and bridges closed, including sections of major highways like U.S. 61 in Iowa and Missouri and crossings at Quincy, Ill., and Louisiana, Mo.

The U.S. Coast Guard said 114 barges broke loose near St. Louis on Saturday night, and four hit the Jefferson Barracks Bridge in St. Louis County. The bridge was closed about six hours for inspection but reopened around 8 a.m. Sunday. The runaway barges were corralled but authorities believe a few sank.

Flooding has now been blamed in three deaths — two at the same spot in Indiana and one in Missouri. In all three cases, vehicles were swept off the road in flash floods. High water could be responsible for two more, both in Illinois, where a decomposed body was found Thursday in an Oak Brook creek and a body was found Saturday in the Mississippi River at Cora. Investigations continue.

And the danger is far from over, as spots south of St. Louis aren’t expected to crest until next week, and significant flooding is possible in places like Ste. Genevieve, Mo., Cape Girardeau, Mo., and Cairo, Ill.

Adding to concern is a forecast that calls for heavy rain Monday night and Tuesday throughout much of the Midwest. National Weather Service meteorologist Julie Phillipson said an inch of rain is likely in many places, some places even more.

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