Boy, 14, dies trying to cross flooded creek; water still high in many areas

Saturday, April 12, 2008

ST. LOUIS -- The latest round of flooding was blamed in the death of a southern Missouri boy, forced scattered evacuations around the state Friday and had some Mississippi River towns fortifying levees and floodwalls.

Four inches of rain fell in parts of southern Missouri on Wednesday and Thursday -- too much moisture for already saturated ground and rivers still high from heavy rains last month.

In Shannon County, 14-year-old Kenneth Davidson of Bunker died Thursday while trying to cross the Mill Creek arm of Loggers Lake. The Missouri State Water Patrol said the boy was holding onto a metal cable while crossing the normally shallow creek, but the higher than normal currents caused him to lose his footing.

Kenneth was swept away by the rushing water. Emergency crews found his body tangled in roots about a mile downstream.

Parts of Branson were soaked after the Army Corps of Engineers released record amounts of water from Table Rock Lake to cope with heavy rains. The corps will continue to release 34,000 cubic feet per second through Tuesday.

The resort city evacuated about 50 homes on Lake Taneycomo. The lake is expected to reach a record crest of 933 feet above sea level today.

Branson city spokesman Jerry Adams said about 15 homes were flooded as of Friday. Most of Branson is well above the waterfront on hillsides and ridges. Still, water was over the river walk at the Branson Landing shopping center, although the stores were safe.

The strong current on flooded Lake Taneycomo peeled a 100-foot-long boat dock away from the shore. It floated about 500 yards with some 30 boats tied to it. The dock's owners were ferrying back and forth to rescue the boats.

The Water Patrol rescued trapped drivers near the Big Piney River. The patrol's Col. Rad Talburt warned drivers to be extra cautious.

"With the ground already saturated, it will take very little additional rain to create intense flash flooding," Talburt said.

Sandbags remain along the Meramec River in eastern Missouri. Moderate flooding is expected in Eureka. In Valley Park, a levee built in 2005 protects most of the town, but rising water could close busy Highway 141 near Interstate 44, potentially creating a headache for suburban St. Louis commuters.

A few towns on the Missouri River could also see minor to moderate flooding, including Hermann, Washington and St. Charles. Few homes or businesses are expected to be affected.

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