Midwest sees record floods, road closures, runaway barges, and evacuations
After a week of torrential rains, six Midwestern states are struggling with massive flooding. Two Mississippi River bridges and part of the river have been closed as the waters continue to rise.
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"This is frustrating for people," Connelly said. "This isn't as bad as 2008, but thank God it stopped raining."Skip to next paragraph
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Gov. Jay Nixon on Saturday toured the unprotected-by-choice town that was also flooded in 2008, 2001, 1998, 1995 and many times before that.
"The water is continuing to rise but it is our full hope and expectation that these walls will hold," Nixon said of the sandbag levees. Clarksville has a flood protection system in which a temporary levee — aluminum slats filled with sand — can be built if the river rises, but the Mississippi was too quick this time.
Recreational traffic on the river has been halted, too, including the Mark Twain Riverboat that offers excursions at scenic Hannibal, Mo. Owner and pilot Steve Terry has moored the ship since Thursday, with no end in sight.
Even crossing the river was difficult. One of two bridges at Quincy, Ill., closed Friday, and the narrow two-lane bridge at the Missouri town of Louisiana was shut down Saturday. To get across, people in the Louisiana, Mo., area either had to drive 35 miles north or 50-plus miles south.
Louisiana, Mo., resident Erica Campbell, whose rented home in a low-lying area of town was flooded for the second time in three years, and she said she's had enough. Campbell, her husband and their eight kids are packing up.
"We're planning to move to the country — as far away from water as I can get," Campbell, 35, said.
Smaller rivers across the Midwest were swelling, too. In Illinois, heavy equipment manufacturer Caterpillar will shut down its East Peoria, Ill., factory Sunday as the Illinois River approaches an expected 30-foot crest early next week.
Several Indiana towns were threatened by high water, forcing hundreds of evacuations. The Wabash River in Tippecanoe County reached more than 14 feet above flood stage on Saturday, the highest level since 1958. Indiana Gov. Mitch Pence took a helicopter tour Saturday of damage in Kokomo, Tipton and Elwood.
Salter reported from St. Louis. AP Photographer Jeff Roberson in Clarksville and Louisiana contributed to this report.