WAYNESVILLE, Mo. – A young child drowned, several people were rescued and dozens of others were forced out of their homes after flash flooding in south-central Missouri early Tuesday.
The body of a child — believed to be between the ages of 4 and 6 — was found early Tuesday near Mitchell Creek on the west side of Waynesville, Pulaski County Sheriff Ron Long said.
The child apparently had been in a vehicle that got caught in the flooding, Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Dan Crain said. Authorities did not immediately release the gender or name of the child.
Local officials estimated that 50 or more homes were flooded in Waynesville as the Mitchell and Robidoux creeks rose after several inches of rain fell after midnight. Crain also said several people were still unaccounted for Tuesday morning.
The National Weather Service said more than 7 inches of rain fell at Fort Leonard Wood, which is near Waynesville, from midnight to mid-Tuesday morning. About one-third of Missouri's counties were under flood watches or warnings, mainly in southwestern and south-central Missouri.
Waynesville Mayor Luge Hardman said the floodwaters had torn loose several propane tanks and affected a public school. She said residents also were bracing for flooding from the Gasconade River.
"It is raining, and we are expecting more rain this afternoon so we're kind of scared of what's coming," Hardman told The Associated Press.
Long told The Springfield News-Leader that the floodwaters submerged houses, trailer courts and cars.
"We have done many high-water rescues and many other rescues. We have even rescued our rescuers. It has been a very hairy evening here," Long told the newspaper. "It is not over yet. It is just daylight, so the hard work has begun."
Crain said the Highway Patrol was among several agencies that responded with rescue boats. He said U.S. Army personnel from Fort Leonard Wood were on standby.
The Missouri Department of Transportation has closed several area roads because of high water.