Levee Breaks Cause More Flooding in Northwest, Central Missouri

Levee breaks along the Missouri River flooded homes, farms, highways and railroad tracks as floodwaters that have inundated the region were expected to peak in some spots this weekend.

Near-record flood levels dropped in some places but rose in northwest and central Missouri, as worried residents removed valuables from their homes and filled sandbags to protect river communities.

A barge that floated loose in Glasgow was captured by the state water patrol about 60 road miles downstream near Hartsburg, officials said. The water patrol planned to tie it up until the waters recede, Highway Patrol Capt. Tim Hull said.

Inmates from St. Joseph prison and National Guard members filled sandbags to try to protect a water treatment plant, schools and an ethanol plant near Craig, where the Missouri River dropped a few inches Thursday.

The water got within "a hillbilly's whisker from going over in several places," Holt County Sheriff Kirby Felumb said.

Rivers breached or topped dozens of levees across the state, officials said. No serious injuries or deaths had been reported in the flooding, said Brian Hauswirth, a spokesman for the State Emergency Management Agency. The storms that raised river levels also generated the tornadoes that killed 12 people in Kansas last weekend.

The most recent levee break occurred Thursday afternoon between the towns of DeWitt and Brunswick, flooding farmland, slowing traffic on U.S. 24 and damaging railroad tracks. Another Carroll County breach south of Norborne had flooded about 15,000 acres of cropland and left about 75 rural homes surrounded with water.

Big Lake, in northwestern Missouri, suffered some of the worst flooding this week. Most of the 32 rescues the Missouri State Water Patrol has conducted have been in the Big Lake area.

By Thursday, rooftops were all that could be seen of some of the 450 to 475 homes flooded in Big Lake. Authorities took some residents to rescue their pets and retrieve medication Thursday.

"We can't do much for the property," Felumb said. "There's no need to let a family pet die if we have resources."

Although the river crests were lower than forecast in many areas, residents remained anxious. Many were here for the 1993 floods, among the most costly in U.S. history.

The rain-swollen rivers and streams that make up the Missouri River system are causing damage as the water flows east toward St. Louis, where the Missouri River meets the Mississippi, said Suzanne Fortin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

In Jefferson City, the Missouri River was expected to crest Sunday at 8.7 feet above flood stage, which could cause flooding at the airport and other low-lying areas below the bluff where the state Capitol sits.

At the State Emergency Operations Center, Gov. Matt Blunt said damage assessment teams were being dispatched to 17 counties, and about 100 Missouri National Guard members had been deployed.

He said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has prepared about 1.2 million sandbags.