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Archive for Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Mo. River towns see worst flooding since 1993 disaster

May 9, 2007

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— Heavy rain from an already deadly storm system sent the Missouri River and other Midwest waterways over their banks Tuesday, forcing thousands of people to evacuate and bringing warnings that the region could see flooding close to the devastation of 1993.

Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt declared a state of emergency and mobilized National Guard troops to help.

At least 19 Kansas counties declared local disaster emergencies.

Five burst levees along the Missouri River sent a deluge of water that submerged the tiny town of Big Lake on Tuesday, as thousands in the region fled their homes amid warnings that the flooding could approach the devastation of 1993.

The levees broke Monday south of Big Lake, along with four smaller levees along the Tarkio River and the Tarkio Creek, and the rush of river water immersed the town on Tuesday, said Mark Sitherwood, presiding commissioner of Holt County.

Many of the buildings in town had several feet of water inside, said Holt County Clerk Kathy Kunkel.

"The town is a loss. At this time, we don't know, but it looks like that's what's going to happen," Sitherwood said.

No injuries were reported. Most Big Lake residents evacuated Monday but a handful had to be rescued by boat Tuesday, Sitherwood said.

Evacuations were voluntary in several western Missouri counties, but a mandatory evacuation was imposed in Parkville, just across the Missouri River from Kansas City, said Jessica Robinson, a spokeswoman for the governor.

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