CRYSTAL CITY, Mo. – His tattoo parlor surrounded by sandbags three feet high, Joe Runnels was under siege: The flooding Mississippi had turned a central point of Crystal City's downtown business district into a lake.
"In a situation like this, what can you do?" Runnels said Thursday as rain bounced off his face in this town of 4,000 near St. Louis. "You're at the mercy of it all."
With rain still falling Friday, parts of Missouri, Illinois and Indiana braced for more flooding. Rain was forecast to end by midday Friday in Missouri, but was expected to continue throughout the day in portions of Illinois and Indiana. The National Weather Service predicted 3 to 4 more inches for some areas of Indiana.
So far this month, flooding has been blamed for eight deaths in Missouri and, on Thursday, contributed to an 8-year-old boy's drowning in Illinois.
In Crystal City, some merchants sandbagged as the Mississippi backed up through a normally shallow creek and flooded parts of the business district. Others, like a rental shop just down the road, moved everything out.
Missouri Gov. Bob Holden declared a statewide emergency. State emergency officials said more than half the state's 114 counties reported flood damage.
In Indiana, meanwhile, Gov. Frank O'Bannon said flooding in the state's central and southern portions could reach record levels.
At least 15 to 20 Indiana families had been forced from their homes by flooding from the Wabash, White and Patoka rivers, said Joe Deal, emergency management director in Gibson County. All three rivers were still rising Friday.
In Illinois, Sen. Dick Durbin sent a letter to President Bush on Thursday asking him to declare the state a federal disaster area.
The Illinois boy who drowned Thursday was identified as Christian Turner. Authorities said he and two other boys were playing in a boat in floodwaters in central Illinois when it began to drift into a tributary of the swollen Illinois River. The boy apparently panicked, jumped out of the boat and drowned.
In Dutchtown, Mo., a Mississippi River town 120 miles south of St. Louis, workers from the Corps of Engineers and the county highway department, along with scores of volunteers, built a makeshift levee out of crushed limestone.
A Coast Guard spokesman said the agency may close the Mississippi below Cape Girardeau, Friday night or Saturday. The river would be closed to traffic to protect levees from barge wakes.