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Morning headlines: Monday, June 6, 2011

Flickr/SDNG photo by OC Chad Carlson
A contractor packs down mud to strengthen the levee and a berm of sandbags line local residential and businesses to help contain the rising Missouri River in Pierre, June 1, 2011.

Second Breach on Missouri River Reported

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reported the first breach on the levee near the Missouri-Iowa border yesterday. The second breach, which is about 10 feet wide, was reported this morning.

The corps says the Iowa National Guard has been dropping thousands of pounds of large sandbags to help fill the breaches, but the damaged areas are expected to fully breach as water levels rise.

Officials in Iowa and Missouri began evacuations yesterday from Hamburg, Iowa, and from several homes on the Missouri side of the levee because of the breaches.

The corps has predicted record river flows and large releases from several upstream reservoirs because of steady spring rain and runoff from record snow pack.

Tornadoes and Floods Costing Billions

A month packed with tornadoes and flooding has caused billions of dollars of damage in Missouri, and the economic effects may be felt for years.

Experts say insurance premiums are likely to increase for home and vehicle owners in Missouri. Restaurants and retail shops in flooded areas are likely to see lower sales. Utility rates are likely to rise following a deadly tornado in Joplin. And Missouri's budget now is tens of millions of dollars deeper in the hole, which could force cuts to government services and schools.

Missouri may be an extreme example. But it's far from alone this spring. The recent tornado in Joplin and a series of twisters that ravaged the South are estimated to have caused a combined insurance loss of up to $8 billion.

Ill. Catholic Social Service Agencies Suspend Foster Care Service Due to Civil Unions

Catholic Charities in Peoria and Joliet have temporarily stopped licensing new foster parents. The agency in Joliet has also halted its adoption applications.

Just a few days prior to the start of the civil union law the Rockford diocese announced it was dropping its state contracts for those services. They argue that the law threatens their religious freedom to turn away unmarried couples, gay or straight.

Department of Children and Family Services spokesman Kendall Marlowe says if all chapters of Catholic Charities opt out of their contracts, DCFS would be left with about 2,500 children needing to be placed with other agencies.

  "Obviously it's our desire that everyone who's committed to the safety and well being of children continue in that work. But all our agencies have to obey the law. There are no exceptions."

 The Catholic Conference of Illinois would not comment on the foster care suspension. However, a recent statement issued by the Springfield diocese, says all the different agencies are considering their legal options, which could include suing the state.

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