Flooding Threatens To Dampen Holiday More Storms Expected In Flood-Weary Midwest

People living along swollen rivers in the Midwest began their holiday weekend wet and jittery Friday as heavy rain threatened more flash flooding.

Three to 5 inches of rain that fell on saturated Oklahoma soil washed out bridges and covered roads up to car headlights. A 13-year-old boy was swept to his death in a swollen creek in north Tulsa.

Forecasters said the storms could linger into this evening in some areas, dousing them with an additional 3 inches of rain.

On the Mississippi River, the rain will probably lead to crests at least 7 feet above flood stage from Quincy, Ill., to St. Louis, National Weather Service hydrologist Jack Burns said.

On the Illinois River, emergency workers and boot camp inmates launched a vast sandbagging effort in low-lying farm country south of Peoria, Ill. The weather service said even without more rain over the weekend, the river should crest at 25 feet in Peoria on Tuesday, high enough to cover some streets.

Broad expanses of southern Illinois inundated last week were still submerged. Lakes of standing water in central Illinois idled farmers.

Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan asked President Clinton to issue federal disaster declarations in portions of his state. The state Emergency Management Agency estimated damage to public facilities such as roads, bridges and sewers at more than $10 million.

The Coast Guard received authorization to recall up to 300 reserve members to help in flood relief.

The rain complicated the task of workers hauling rocks and dirt to fill a 35-foot-deep hole rushing water has gouged in Missouri Highway 19. The football field-sized hole keeps residents from crossing the Missouri River at the historic German community of Hermann unless they go by boat or take a 2 1/2-hour detour to Jefferson City.

“It’s aggravating,” contractor Greg Eikel said as he stepped onto a boat for a trip home from a hardware store. “Like today, I’ve had to come over here twice. Sure it’s inconvenient.”

Though the Missouri River had dropped below flood stage in parts of western Missouri, it was still spread beyond its banks in the hardhit central and eastern regions of the state.

Tags: weather

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