Midwest flooding continues down river

| 6/20/2008

Floods and severe weather along the Mississippi River have killed 24 people and injured 148; forced more than 38,000 from their homes; and inundated at least 3.4 million acres in three states, an area larger than Connecticut.

Moving goods by truck is still difficult in the effected areas, with many state and U.S. highways still submerged in floodwaters.

The Illinois Department of Transportation reported more than 20 state and U.S. highways closed on Friday, June 20, because of flooding, but all major interstates were open. In Iowa, more than a dozen roads remained closed by floodwater Friday morning, although all interstates were open.

In Wisconsin, Interstate 94 near Jefferson was finally open to traffic, albeit just one lane in each direction. And parts of Interstate-39 near Portage were still closed.

The Missouri DOT also reported more than a dozen state routes and several U.S. routes closed because of flooding. All interstates remained open there as well.

The flooding has closed a 388-mile stretch of the river, beginning in Iowa and continuing south past St. Louis, to recreational boat traffic and limited commercial shipping.

ABC-News reported that so far more than 33,000 people have registered for FEMA assistance. On Wednesday, June 18, Congress reached a deal to allocate $2 billion dollars in disaster relief to affected areas.

The Mississippi River broke through more levees late Thursday and into Friday, June 20, spreading damage beyond Illinois and Iowa and down into Missouri.

New projections from the National Weather Service say the river was expected to crest at about 37 feet in St. Louis on Friday. That’s still short of the 49.5-foot record set back in 1993.

The Associated Press reported that the prediction was lowered as the river crested more levees upstream in Lincoln County, about 50 miles north of St. Louis.

Some communities further upstream are already beginning the cleanup and looking at the economic impact that the flood will have on farming communities, transportation and small businesses.

MSNBC reported that crop damage in Iowa alone has already surpassed $2.7 billion. Many farmers in both Iowa and Indiana are saying that the growing season is lost, because it’s too late in the year to replant in time for the fall harvest.

Meanwhile, barges that usually move crops and industrial products down the Mississippi have been shut down until the flood waters recede, which is already sending prices of feed and some grocery items skyrocketing.