St. Louis Public Radio News
7:48 am
Mon June 16, 2008

Northeast Missouri bracing for flood

St. Louis, MO – More than 250 National Guard personnel are on the ground assisting with flood fighting operations in northeast Missouri.

In the city of Canton, volunteers are busy adding 2 feet of sandbags to the top of the city's levee. Canton has a 3-mile levee system that protects about 600 acres of downtown commercial and residential area.

Current projections have the Mississippi cresting several inches over the town's levee. Canton emergency management director Jeff McReynolds says as other levees fail the river level will drop.

"This is a horrible thing to say, but whoever can keep their necks above water the longest wins because you'll gradually start seeing levee failures and as those other levees fail that would certainly be to our benefit," says McReynolds.

Armies of Mennonites and Amish worked sandbag lines with inmates, college students and other volunteers in communities south of Iowa and north of St. Louis in a race to beat the clock.

In tiny Alexandria, Missouri, all residents were told to get out as the town's levee is expected to fail.

Unlike the Great Flood of 1993, Kinder says the current situation is occurring along a smaller span of river.

"Where our concern is, is from St. Charles north to the Iowa border. We've seen what has happened in Iowa with their devastating flooding and we want to be ready, and we believe we are going to be ready, as these critical hours come between now and Saturday/Sunday."

Kinder asked President Bush on Monday to expedite a disaster declaration to help the state secure additional resources. Kinder says some crest projections now have the Mississippi leveling off several inches below the 93 record.

The Humane Society of Missouri, which helped rescue 300 animals in the Iowa floods, said it's now focusing relief efforts in northeast Missouri.