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Flooding worsens in nation’s midsection

PIEDMONT, Missouri (AP) — Flooding forced hundreds of people to flee their homes and closed scores of roads Wednesday as a huge storm system poured as much as 10 inches of rain on the nation’s midsection.

Four deaths were linked to the flooding in Missouri, and five people were killed in a highway wreck in heavy rain in Kentucky.

Searches were under way in Texas for a teenager washed down a drainage pipe and in Missouri for a man missing in a creek, and two people were missing in Arkansas after their vehicles were swept away by rushing water.

The National Weather Service posted flood and flash flood warnings from Texas to Pennsylvania on Wednesday.

About 10 inches of rain had fallen by Wednesday morning in southeast Missouri’s Cape Girardeau County, where street flooding marooned some residents in their homes, the State Emergency Management Agency said. The weather service said 6.7 inches of rain fell in 24 hours at Jasper, Arkansas, and 6.2 inches had fallen at Evansville, Indiana. Watch high water trap a school bus

Scott and Marilyne Peterson and their son, Scott Jr., scurried out of their home near Piedmont after seeing water rise 3 feet in five minutes. They had just enough time to grab essentials and their dog.

You didn’t have time to worry, Scott Peterson Sr. said. You just grab what you can and go and you’re glad the people are OK.

The rain in Missouri was expected to finally come to an end Wednesday as the weather system headed toward the northeast.

An estimated 300 houses and businesses were flooded in Piedmont, a town of 2,000 residents on McKenzie Creek. Dozens of people were rescued by boat.

Outside St. Louis, the Meramec River was expected to crest 10 to 15 feet above flood stage at some spots, threatening towns like Eureka and Valley Park, where residents were urged to evacuate. The Missouri River was at or near flood stage through much of central and eastern Missouri. Watch river threaten town

The James River was approaching record levels of more than 33 feet above normal at the small Ozarks town of Galena west of Branson, flooding a commercial strip and numerous homes near the town, Stone County emergency management chief Tom Martin said. The canoeing and fishing center of about 450 residents sits mainly on a hill above the river.

Flooding was widespread in Arkansas, washing out some highways and leading to evacuations of homes in parts of Baxter, Madison and Sharp counties, said Tommy Jackson, a spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management. The Highway and Transportation Department reported state roads blocked in 16 counties.

In northeast Arkansas, the Spring River was rising at a rate of 6 inches per hour and carrying debris that included entire trees.

Searchers at West Fork, Arkansas, found a truck that was washed off a bridge but the driver was missing.

The water was reportedly so high … they had to scale back the search for a time, Jackson said.

Another man was missing after his vehicle was caught by high water near Timbo, Arkansas, Stone County Sheriff Todd Hudspeth said.

Farther north, widespread flooding was reported in parts of southwest Indiana and Ohio.

We’ve got water rising everywhere, said Jeff Korb, president of the Vanderbugh County, Indiana, commissioners. We’ve got more than 70 roads under water.

Rescuers in southern Indiana plucked a man from a tree in the Ohio River after his truck was swept away. Knight Township Fire Chief Chris Wathen said the man was conscious but showing signs of hypothermia.

It’s hard for anybody to say how long he could have survived there, Wathen said. But I do think it was fair to say he was within minutes of losing his life.

Residents of South Lebanon, Ohio — a town of about 2,800 people — were urged to get out as the Little Miami River was expected to crest at 28 feet, 11 feet above flood stage and the third-highest level since measurements began in 1889, said Frank Young, emergency management director in Warren County. Watch Ohioans brace for floods

That would put half of South Lebanon under water, Young said.

Key roads were closed in the Cincinnati, Ohio, area, where water 4 feet deep was reported in businesses in the suburb of Sharonville, police said. Police contacted at least nine businesses and warned them not to open Wednesday. Northeast of Cincinnati, two members of a cross-country team had to be rescued after falling into a rain-swollen creek.

The Ohio River at Cincinnati was expected to rise about 2 feet above flood stage by Friday, flooding some neighborhoods outside the city.

Emergency officials in Mesquite, Texas, searched for a 14-year-old boy apparently swept away by rushing water as he and a friend played in a creek. The friend swam to safety, authorities said.

Some travelers had to spend the night camped out at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, where more than half of the 950 scheduled flights Tuesday were canceled because of more than 6 inches of rain and wind gusting to more than 100 mph.

Missouri state officials said three people died there, including one man whose car was swept 600 feet down a flooded stream. The Southeast Missourian newspaper in Cape Girardeau reported a fourth death.
Flooding worsens in nation’s midsection – found here.

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March 19, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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