A makeshift sandbag levee holding back the Mississippi River failed early Saturday and authorities said part of the town was evacuated.

Water began flowing under the 4-foot-high barrier around 4:30 a.m. An alarm sounded and the few residents remaining in the flood plain were ordered to get out.

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"It was a valiant effort," said Chris Azar of the Winfield-Foley Fire Department. "It's unfortunate that we couldn't do more but Mother Nature won. Now, just give it time for the water to recede."

Storms and flooding in the Midwest this month have been responsible for the deaths of at least 24 people and caused billions of dollars in damage.

On Friday, the Pin Oak levee that protected part of the town of 720 residents gave way, and within hours the National Guard began constructing the makeshift levee around a cluster of about 100 homes. That new levee had a steel frame with layers of dirt, plastic and sandbags. Hundreds of volunteers had filled sandbags for the effort.

The new barrier appeared to be holding well, until Saturday morning.

Evacuees are mostly staying with relatives or friends, though a few were staying at a Red Cross shelter set up at the high school.

Winfield, 45 miles northwest of St. Louis, is in Lincoln County, which has been particularly hard hit by flooding caused by torrential rain that fell across the Midwest in early June.

County emergency operations spokesman Andy Binder said 92 homes have been destroyed, 36 others have major damage and 650 can't be evaluated yet because they remain inaccessible.

The Mississippi is receding at Winfield and towns to the north, but remains well above flood stage. Crests will reach St. Louis on Monday and Cape Girardeau, Missouri, on Wednesday.

Elsewhere in the state, heavy rain drenched much of southwest Missouri early Saturday, causing widespread flooding of low-lying areas and roads.

Across the central part of the state, the Missouri River, which joins the Mississippi near St. Louis, is rising because of heavy rain that fell on Thursday and early Friday. The National Weather Service predicts moderate flooding in parts of mid-Missouri by Monday.

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