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Published on : Wednesday, December 30, 2015
On Wednesday MIssouri braced for record floods from the turbulent Mississippi River and its tributaries that have already shut down more than 200 state highways, forced evacuation of residents in some low-lying areas and prompted Gov. Jay Nixon to activate the National Guard to counter the floods.
Nixon warned that low temperatures would further complicate the battle to protect life and property from this rare winter flood. The Mississippi River is expected to crest in downtown St. Louis Thursday at 43.7 feet, nearly 14 feet over flood stage.
The week-old weather pattern that brought tornadoes, snow, ice, heavy rain and flooding to Texas and parts of the Midwest and Southeast has been blamed for more than 40 deaths. Nixon said 13 had died in Missouri alone.
In Illinois, Christian County officials said the latest deaths were a man and a woman found in floodwaters about six miles east of Edinburg.
In Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., five international soldiers assigned there for training drowned in flood waters on Sunday. The identities of the soldiers were not immediately released pending notification of family.
In Missouri, some areas have already been hit hard by the first wave of rising water. Rockaway Beach, located near Branson in southwest Missouri, was swamped by waters from the swollen White River.
The Meramec’s rising waters at Valley Park also shut down Interstate 44, a major artery that carries 100,000 cars daily as it slices southwest through the state from St. Louis. I-44 was also closed at Jerome, Mo., 100 miles to the southwest, from flooding on the Gasconade River.
In nearby Pacific, around 300 homes and business were battling rising water as the Meramec threatened to top the record river level of 33.6 feet by as much as two feet.
Nixon, activated the National Guard on Tuesday, said the state was braced for battles on numerous fronts as river levels threatened to match or exceed records set in 1993.