Flooding expected in northeast Mo.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

ST. LOUIS -- Residents of northeast Missouri piled up sandbags and prepared for more flooding Tuesday as the National Weather Service predicted river levels will rise well above flood stage this weekend.

Parts of the state have already been drenched by unusually heavy rains this spring. In eastern Missouri, flooding has caused damage along the Mississippi River and smaller waterways like the Meramec River just west of St. Louis.

The predicted flooding is a result of heavy rains late last week that dropped up to 4 inches in parts of northeast Iowa, said National Weather Service Hydrologist Mark Fuchs.

"That forced the Mississippi pretty high up in those areas, and that's meandering down to Hannibal right now," Fuchs said.

Officials in the northeast Missouri town of Hannibal said they're ready. The city has closed and locked five flood gates along the riverside town's edge, said Emergency Management director John Hark.

"We've got the city all sealed up from the river -- we hope," Hark said.

The National Weather Service predicted water levels will crest at nearly 23 feet near Hannibal this weekend -- about 4 feet above flood stage. Farther south in towns like Clarksville the Mississippi is expected to crest at nearly 32 feet, or 3 feet above flood stage.

Clarksville residents have been placing sandbags around their downtown businesses this week, said Terry Redd, manager of the Cedarcrest Manor restaurant. The eatery is about 200 feet from the riverfront. Redd said the staff there hasn't barricaded the building with sandbags yet, but is ready to do so if the waters rise quickly.

"Maybe if we don't have any more rain we might get lucky and not get flooded," Redd said.

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