Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Surging Midwestern Rivers Threaten Floods in 6 States

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Surging Midwestern Rivers Threaten Floods in 6 States

Article excerpt

CLARKSVILLE, Mo. -- The fast-rising Mississippi River was making travel difficult Saturday, both on the river and for those simply trying to get across it.

The Mississippi, Missouri and other Midwestern rivers in at least six states have surged since torrential rains drenched the region over the last few days. At least two deaths are blamed on flash flooding and a third was suspected, while crews in Indiana were searching for a man whose car was swept away.

The National Weather Service predicted what it characterizes as "major" flooding on the Mississippi from the Quad Cities through just north of St. Louis by this weekend, with similar projections farther south into the days to follow. Some smaller rivers are expected to see record flooding.

People in and around Louisiana, Mo., about 95 miles north of St. Louis, were facing potential travel woes after the Champ Clark Bridge was closed Saturday due to water overtaking the approach on the Illinois side. It was the second Mississippi River crossing to close in two days -- one of the two bridges at Quincy, Ill., closed on Friday.

To get across the river, people in the Louisiana, Mo., area either had to drive 35 miles north to Hannibal, Mo., or 50-plus miles south to suburban St. Louis. Penny Scranton's normal 13- minute commute from Rockport, Ill., to the BP convenience store in Louisiana, Mo., turned into an hour-and-a-half.

The store manager chose to look at the bright side: Her employer pays her mileage.

"There are others worse off," she shrugged.

If crossing the river was difficult, traveling it was essentially impossible. The water was moving too swiftly, prompting the Army Corps of Engineers to close most of the locks between the Quad Cities and near St. Louis. Barge traffic was at a standstill, slowing the movement of items such as coal, grain and other goods.

In Hannibal, Mo., -- Mark Twain's hometown -- a steady stream of tourists climbed atop the earthen levee for a look at the river. Steve Terry, owner and captain of the Mark Twain Riverboat, has put excursions on hold since Thursday, with no end in sight. …

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