DISASTERS

The Latest: Sewage, chemicals in floodwaters poses dangers

The Latest on flooding in the Midwest (all times local):

8:30 a.m.

Officials are warning of the dangers left behind by a devastating flood as hundreds of displaced residents prepare to return to their homes along the Meramec River in suburban St. Louis.

The Meramec reached record and near-record levels at several towns after torrential rains last weekend caused a sudden jump in the river level. At least 200 homes and dozens of businesses were damaged.

Missouri is among several states in the central U.S. where dangerous floods have occurred. Nine deaths are blamed on the flooding.

St. Louis County officials are warning that floodwater can contain raw sewage, chemicals and others dangers. Health officials say children should not play in floodwater, and that children and pets should avoid toys soaked in the water. Wild animals displaced by flooding also pose a potential threat.

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12:05 a.m.

River levels are falling after record and near-record flooding in parts of the Midwest, but the crisis is far from over.

The troublesome Black River that runs from southeast Missouri into northeast Arkansas was down after cresting earlier this week in places like Poplar Bluff, Missouri, and Pocahontas, Arkansas. But the mess left behind is substantial after the river reached record levels in both places.

The Meramec River in suburban St. Louis also is on the decline. A levee at Valley Park, Missouri, is holding, as is a sandbag levee consisting of 250,000 bags in nearby Eureka. Residents aren't breathing easy yet: More rain on Thursday will keep the river high for several days.