Missouri, Kansas flooding: three fatalities, one missing

Missouri flooding, linked to three fatalities, is abating after days of heavy rainfall in southern Missouri. Flooding in south-central Kansas, where a search is ongoing for a teen who went swimming, remains a threat as more rain is forecast.

Orlin Wagner/AP
Flood water from Deer Creek cover a road near Iola, Kan., Friday. Kansas and Missouri flooding has been linked to three fatalities and a missing teen, last seen swimming in a Wichita, Kan., waterway.

After a week of downpours, the search continued Saturday for a 14-year-old boy believed to have been swept up in a rain-swollen waterway in Kansas, and crews a day earlier in Missouri recovered the body of a woman swept away in her car during flash flooding that also killed her 4-year-old son.

The heavy storm front that stalled over the Plains last weekend hit south-central Missouri and south-central Kansas hard, damaging homes and businesses, forcing evacuations and leading to at least three reported fatalities in Missouri during the week that followed.

Jessica Lee, 23, died along with her son, Elyjah Lee, 4, when their car was caught in a flash flood early Tuesday in their hometown of Waynesville in south-central Missouri. The child's body was found Tuesday, but his mother's body wasn't located until late Friday, Pulaski County Sheriff Ron Long said in a news release. Her body was found in the Roubidoux River in Waynesville.

Early Thursday, Helen Pendergraft, 69, of Noel, died as she tried to drive across a flooded creek near the southwest Missouri town of Jane.

In Kansas, Wichita police said Saturday crews had not yet found any sign of the 14-year-old boy who went under the water about noon Friday. He was swimming in a west Wichita waterway called The Big Ditch, which was swollen after heavy rain also hit that area.

Ryan Kardell, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Springfield, said Saturday that flash flooding also hit southwest Missouri late Friday near Conway, but the main flooding risk is shifting southward to the Missouri-Arkansas border.

Missouri should be clear of flooding by mid-week, he said.

"Overall the situation is improving considerably from what it's been," Kardell said. "We do have a chance for rain, but it's going to be a little less organized than what it was over the last several days where we've had several rounds of heavy rainfall. ... Everybody needs a break."

However, more rain was forecast for south-central Kansas. The National Weather Service issued flooding warnings for Reno County until Sunday afternoon because of the continued flood risk along rural roads and streams.

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