Rivers start to drop, but flood crisis isn't over yet

A large area of eastern Missouri and southern IL remained under flood warnings on Thursday morning. More than 100 National Guard members were dispatched after at least nine breaches were reported along a levee near the town of Pocahontas, where some residents were evacuated.

At least five people have been killed in flooding in Missouri, the last two of them swept from their cars on Monday and Tuesday.

The Meramec and other rivers in Missouri and IL rose sharply after significant rain in the past few days.

Heavy rainfall over the weekend has inundated several communities along the river, which is forecast to crest at record levels at Eureka and near-records at Pacific, Valley Park and Fenton on Wednesday.

The flooding along the Mississippi River and Ohio River is the worst since late 2015, he said.

For the I-55 closure, the department recommends I-57 at Sikeston across the Mississippi River into IL as a detour.

The flooding was caused by a storm that parked over the region last weekend and dumped nearly 12 inches (30 cm) of rain, the National Weather Service said. Residents of the levee-protected part of Valley Park, Missouri, are to return home Friday.

It's unclear when vessel traffic will be allowed to resume along the Mississippi. Heavy rains have swollen many rivers to record levels in parts of Missouri, Illinois, Oklahom. Both rivers were at major flood stage and water was seeping over levees at West Alton, but emergency manager Gary Machens was confident the levees would hold.

Brian Emfinger, a reporter for CNN affiliate KATV, took aerial images and video of flooding near Pocahontas, Arkansas, in the northeastern part of the state, where floodwaters overtopped a levee.

She described it as an "escalating disaster", with the agency anticipating all rivers around St. Louis to crest before the end of the week.

The extended rain-free weather will help some communities with damage assessment and cleanup operations, while communities over the lower MS will have fair weather to prepare for the flooding to come.

In the event you neither live in the Midwest nor watch the news, know this: a series of storms have slammed regions spanning from the southern states up through the central Midwest and to the upper Great Lakes region. "It's a very large lake and it's holding lots of water and we're now not releasing anything from Harry S. Truman", he says.

About 20 miles to its south in Des Arc, the river is expected to crest at 36.5 feet by Wednesday, which is about 3 feet shy of the record 39.4 feet set in May 2011.

Travel was restricted on and near parts of the Mississippi River, including a 14.5-mile stretch of the river at St. Louis that was closed to barges and other vessels because of high, swift current.

St. Louis County officials say 200 homes along the Meramec have been damaged and another 1,500 are potentially in harm's way.

By Thursday afternoon, Missouri officials announced westbound lanes in that section of Interstate 44 were reopened.

  • Leroy Wright