Flooding Death Toll Hits 4 as Mississippi Levees Feel Strain

Coast Guard closes the river at St. Louis
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 3, 2019 5:18 PM CDT
Flooding Death Toll Hits 4 as Mississippi Levees Feel Strain
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, right, examines the flooded downtown of Davenport, Iowa, on Friday.   (Kevin E. Schmidt/Quad City Times via AP)

The latest Midwestern flooding claimed at least four lives, closed hundreds of roads, and forced river towns to shore up levees with sandbags as waters rose to and near record levels. The National Weather Service issued flood warnings Friday along a large swath of the Mississippi River, as well as flash-flood watches for parts of Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas after recent heavy rain, the AP reports. The body of a missing kayaker was found in a swollen southwest Missouri creek. The Highway Patrol identified the man as Scott Puckett of Forsyth. The body of his friend, Alex Ekern, was found Thursday. They were paddling Wednesday in Bull Creek when they evidently were swept over a low-water bridge and caught in what is called a hydraulic, which creates a washing-machine effect that is hard to escape. Flooding also took the life of a camper caught in waters from an overflowed creek near Ava, also in southwest Missouri. And in northern Indiana, a 2-year-old was killed when his mother drove onto a flooded road.

The Coast Guard closed the Mississippi near St. Louis to boat and barge traffic, per the Post-Dispatch. The river gauge there is expected to rise to 42.5 feet by Monday, about 7 feet below the record crest set in the summer of 1993, according to the Weather Service. In Davenport, Iowa, concerns were that the worst is far from over. The crest in Davenport inched above the 1993 record Thursday, per the AP, and forecasters expect another 4 inches of rain next week. Downtown flooded when a flood barrier was overwhelmed. The river at the Quad Cities has been at major flood stage or higher for 41 consecutive days. Other river towns are flooding, as well. In Missouri, the townspeople of Kimmswick are building atop a permanent levee in hopes of holding back the water. "We've closed off the city completely," the mayor said. "As soon as it rains, we are a bathtub." (March flooding wiped out crops and grain supplies.)

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