Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

2 Rivers May Drop in about a Month Big `If' Depends on No More Downpours

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

2 Rivers May Drop in about a Month Big `If' Depends on No More Downpours

Article excerpt

When it comes to predicting the flood's departure, a dumb question gets a prudent answer.

Jack Burns, the National Weather Service's chief flood watcher here, chuckled Wednesday when asked to guess when the Mississippi and Missouri rivers would retreat between their banks.

"If there isn't any more significant rainfall, the Mississippi might get down here in four or five weeks," he said. "On the Missouri at St. Charles, maybe two to three weeks.

"I'd lean on the high side," he said "Our guidance is that we're not out of the rainy pattern. We don't want to mislead anyone."

Burns also cited the sobering lesson from recent history. In 1993, the Mississippi finally dropped below flood stage on Sept. 13 to considerable local fanfare and relief. It rebounded two days later and stayed that way until Oct. 7.

So the answer is that floodwater will linger.

Both rivers continued slow falls at most points upriver from St. Charles and St. Louis, where they apparently were cresting Wednesday. The Missouri held steady at 32.9 feet, almost 8 feet above flood stage, and was expected to stay there for a day or two and then descend.

At St. Louis, the Mississippi held steady at 40.1 feet, same as Tuesday - and was scheduled to begin a slow fall today. Flood stage at the Eads Bridge is 30 feet.

Towns along the Mississippi and Missouri reported little or no sandbagging Wednesday. In Meredosia, Ill., on the Illinois River, six scuba divers from the Morgan County rescue team stretched plastic across underwater soft spots in a levee protecting large ammonia storage tanks.

Meredosia is about 90 miles north of St. Louis.

If few people were doing anything about the flood Wednesday, many were talking about it. Here are the high points:

Governor Seeks Buyout Gov. Mel Carnahan said Missouri officials "will try our very best" to establish a buyout similar to that of 1993 for people whose property was seriously damaged by the flood this year. Carnahan spoke at a press conference in Lemay with House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt, D-St. Louis County; and James Lee Witt, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The press conference was in the parking lot of a bank on Lemay Ferry Road that is partly submerged by water from Kayser Creek. The lot is adjacent to a buyout area from the 1993 flood.

Witt said his agency was reviewing Carnahan's application for disaster declarations in 23 counties and the city of St. Louis. The declarations would make individuals and governments eligible for federal aid.

Carnahan said that by the time the 1993 buyout program was completed, $100 million will have been spent to buy 4,200 damaged homes and businesses in Missouri. Jerry Uhlmann, Missouri emergency director, said buyouts for this flood must await congressional appropriation. …

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