The death toll from flooding in Missouri rose to 14 and at least two rivers rose higher than during devastating floods in 1993, officials said.  Parts of the Meramec River were two to three feet higher than during the devastating flood in 1993, also known as the “Great Flood.  The region was bracing for more flooding.  The Meramec River in Pacific, about 40 miles southwest of St. Louis, crested at lower levels than had been than feared but water remained high downstream and was expected to continue to rise elsewhere.

Three-day rainfall totals of 9 to 11 inches were records in some parts of an area that stretched from southwest to east-central Missouri, said Mark Fuchs, a hydrologist for the National Weather Service in St. Louis. Rainfall totals of that magnitude occur only every 100 to 300 years, according to rainfall frequency data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Water levels along a 30-mile levee in Perry County near the Mississippi River are dangerously high, Gov. Jay Nixon said. He said recovery could be prolonged.  “You don’t have this much water over a place with a population and businesses and a lot of public assets and the water goes down. … It’s not over,” Nixon said.  The Mississippi River at Thebes, Illinois, reached two feet higher than in 1993.

Maj. Gen. Stephen Danner, head of the Missouri National Guard, said that “several hundred” Guard members had joined rescue, recovery and security task forces across the state. The Coast Guard restricted traffic on the Mississippi River from near Billings Landing, Missouri, to near Chester, Illinois.

Most of the deaths occurred in the southern and southwestern parts of the state. Seven of the 14 deaths occurred in Pulaski County, officials said.  “If we can say one thing over and over and over, it would be don’t drive in water,” Nixon said. “Of the fatalities we have had, all except one has been someone driving into the water.”

Forecast maps show reduced flooding risks at another 10 area levees deemed vulnerable one day previously.  Eleven levees still face “possible significant distress,” including one in Valley Park, Missouri. The St. Louis suburb has ordered mandatory evacuations of hundreds of homes and dozens of businesses near the rising Meramec River.

A water treatment plant was flooded in High Ridge, Missouri, leaving 20,000 people without water, Nixon said.  A 24-mile stretch of Interstate 44 west of St. Louis was closed in both directions Wednesday.  Nixon declared a state of emergency on Monday and activated the National Guard on Tuesday.  He pledged help for inundated towns. President Barack Obama called Nixon for a briefing on the situation Wednesday and directed his staff to coordinate with the state on any federal assistance required, the White House said.

 

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