Deadly Floods Sweep Across the Midwest

JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri, March 19, 2008 (ENS) – At least 13 people have lost their lives in drenching rain and floods spanning the central United States in the past 48 hours. Three others are still missing.

The National Weather Service has issued flood and flash flood warnings from Pennsylvania across the country to Texas. Rivers and streams are overtopping their banks in Missouri, Arkansas, parts of southern Illinois, southern Indiana and southwestern Ohio, and in western Kentucky where five people died in a highway accident in pouring rain.

Missouri Governor Matt Blunt declared a state of emergency across the entire state on Tuesday. Today he called on President George W. Bush to quickly approve disaster declarations for both individual and public assistance for 70 Missouri counties and the City of St. Louis.

Up to 10 inches of rain has swollen rivers and streams, forcing residents from their homes and killing at least five Missourians, the governor wrote in his letter to President Bush.

One of those killed was a Missouri Department of Transportation worker who died during the storm while setting up a barrier to keep drivers off a flooded roadway.

“The current flooding conditions are causing great hardships on Missourians who are being evacuated from their homes, rescued from trapped vehicles, or are separated from their families,” said Governor Blunt. “I have directed all state resources to be available to assist in the rescue and recovery efforts in the affected areas.”

The U.S. Coast Guard has joined state agencies in the State Emergency Operations Center, SEOC, to deal with water rescue missions in the southeast part of the state.

The town of Piedmont, Missouri, population 2,000, was evacuated Tuesday due to flooding, according to the Missouri Highway Patrol. Several dozen people were rescued by boat.

The flooded Gasconade River in
southcentral Missouri (Photo
by Michael Lovingier)

SEOC is coordinating state resources to assist local governments with their emergency protection actions – water rescues, mass care and sheltering operations, monitoring road closures, security and transportation missions, drinking water, sanitary sewage, energy supplies, debris, and status of regulated dams, coordinating health and safety visits for long-term care facilities and other vulnerable populations, and contacting long-term care providers in the affected areas to determine needs for back-up power or other critical needs.

Preliminary damage assessments will be requested as soon as flood waters recede enough to allow access to damaged areas.

Emergency responders from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources were dispatched Tuesday to help capture an estimated 20 propane tanks that were washed away by flood waters in Reynolds County.

Five residential propane tanks were torn from their stations by a flood-swollen Pikes Creek and an additional 15 propane tanks in Logan Creek.

The department’s Southwest and Southeast Regional Offices are working with public water systems and wastewater treatment facilities in the affected areas to determine the effects of the flooding on drinking water availability. Boil orders are being issued throughout the region.

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