News Missouri River causes new problems in areas levees broke
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri River is causing new problems in a flood-battered part of northwest Missouri where the river broke through levees in March.The rain-swollen waterway has again inundated the tiny village of Big Lake in Holt County, where some of its approximately 160 residents were beginning to clean up after the last deluge.Water levels haven’t dropped enough to fix the failed earthen levees intended to protect the area, Holt County emergency management director Tom Bullock said Friday. That means even moderate rises in river levels can cause problems. He calls it „a continuous mess.”Several roads in the region are closed again, including portions of U.S. 159 and U.S. 59 in Missouri near the Missouri River.In eastern Missouri, water levels are falling along the Mississippi River after some levees were busted.
Northwestern Missouri’s new troubles come just as some areas were showing signs of improvement. A stretch of the Kansas Turnpike near the Oklahoma border has reopened, as has the Iowa Highway 2 approach to a Missouri River bridge that links southwest Iowa to southeast Nebraska.
The Kansas Turnpike section near Wellington, which is about 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of Wichita, flooded Wednesday when up to 10 inches (254 millimeters) of rain fell across parts of the state in just 24 hours. Flooding also forced evacuations and school closures.
In Mississippi, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials said Friday that they were days away from closing a floodgate because of the renewed rise of the Mississippi River. Officials issued predictions that a flood inside a region walled off by levees will set a new record once the floodgate is closed.
That lingering flood, which has been going on since February, makes it unlikely that farmers will plant any summer crops on hundreds of thousands of acres in the south end of Mississippi’s Delta region. It has renewed calls for a once-promised system of pumps to drain the region that were vetoed because of predicted environmental harms to wetlands inside the basin, known as the Yazoo backwater.
Officials opened a floodgate at Steele Bayou north of Vicksburg on April 1 after six weeks of closure. Water fell for a time but began to rise again because of heavy rainfall. Now a rising Mississippi River means the gate will have to be closed again to prevent even worse flooding inside the backwater, even as heavy rains move down inland rivers toward their only outlet at Steele Bayou.
The Corps now predicts a crest higher than the peak earlier this year. That was the worst flooding since 1973.
„It’s been a weird, weird, weird year,” said Peter Nimrod, chief engineer of the Mississippi Levee Board.
More rain could make flooding worse in Mississippi and other parts of the Deep South. The National Weather Service says millions of people are in the path of potentially dangerous weather this weekend. The Storm Prediction Center says there’s a marginal risk of severe storms from eastern Texas — where parts of Houston have already seen flooding this week — to South Carolina and western North Carolina.
Forecasters say wind damage and hail could be seen in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina on Saturday. On Sunday, there’s a chance of storms across central Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.
In Louisiana, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened a major spillway Friday, four days earlier than expected due to torrential rains that saw the Mississippi River rise 6 inches (15.24 centimeters) in the past 24 hours. Officials said opening the Bonnet Carré (BAH-nee KEHR-ee) Spillway relieves stress on New Orleans levees.
Severe weather moved eastward Thursday, one day after at least four people were injured when a tornado ripped the roof from a Pine Bluff, Arkansas, apartment building as a powerful line of thunderstorms moved through the area.
The system threatened heavy rainfall from southeastern Texas into Arkansas and Louisiana into early this weekend.
The National Weather Service forecast possible severe thunderstorms, including large to very large hail, damaging winds and isolated tornadoes along the same track.
The wild weather has forced people from their homes in Kansas, soaked waterlogged Houston once again and strained levees along the surging Mississippi River.
About 148,000 power outages were reported in Texas late Thursday night, after fire-rescue crews made a handful of high-water rescues in the western Houston area. No injuries were immediately reported.
The National Weather Service predicted the Missouri River would crest Thursday in St. Joseph, Missouri, at a level that would cause parkland and a residential area to flood.
The weather service said the thunderstorms will spread across the Great Lakes region, Ohio and Tennessee Valleys and into the Lower Mississippi Valley and Southern Plains.
The prospects of heavy rain could cause flash flooding, but the highest risk for excessive rainfall will be in portions of southeastern Texas and Louisiana, according to the weather service.
In Arkansas, about 150 people in Pine Bluff were forced to take shelter at the convention center and other sites after the twister Wednesday night ripped the roof off an apartment complex about 40 miles southeast of Little Rock.
At least four people were injured, according to authorities.
“One of those is probably going to be pretty severe,” Pine Bluff Police Chief Kelvin Sergeant said. “Three others walked out of the scene, and we may have had one who was having chest pains.”
Resident Carla Jackson told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette she heard a loud boom and the storm moved in quickly.
“First there were real high winds and then a loud boom, and next thing you know, the lights started blinking. We heard the transformer blow, then another transformer blow, and then it just went black,” she said.
The NWS surveyed the damage Thursday and declared that a tornado had indeed touched down, although it was on the ground for only a quarter of a mile.
In Texas, the body of a man was recovered in Lady Bird Lake in Austin on Wednesday after the victim was swept away in rising waters, KXAN reported. Police were alerted after the body was spotted floating downstream under the South First Street Bridge.
At least four tornadoes were reported Wednesday, two in Brazos County, Texas, and two in Louisiana, according to the Storm Prediction Center.
A possible tornado destroyed a trailer home in Ruston, Louisiana, where two people were killed at the site of last month’s deadly tornado.
Across the Midwest, flooding has caused billions of dollars of damage to farmland, homes and businesses. Some rivers have been above flood stage for more than six weeks.
In Kansas, flooding waterways forced evacuations and school closures Wednesday. The Kansas Turnpike remained closed near the Oklahoma border.
In northwest Missouri’s Holt County, Emergency Management Director Tom Bullock said a few people who moved back home after March’s flooding were forced out again late Wednesday by rising water. His own home is unreachable.
“The water won’t go away,” he said.
Wind-driven water caused more flooding in southeastern Michigan along western Lake Erie after rainfall that contributed to high water levels in the Great Lakes.
Firefighters in Monroe County’s Berlin Township used a boat to reach those stranded at homes by high water near Lake Erie. In nearby Frenchtown Township, pumps were used to clear roadways.
Contributing: The Associated Press; Kristin Lam, USA TODAY
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: ‘The water won’t go away’: Severe weather slams Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana