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National Guard Joins Fight Against Rain-Soaked Midwest Volunteers Fill More Sandbags As Insurance Against New Flooding

Rain fell in the Midwest on Saturday as volunteers filled more sandbags in case of renewed flooding along the swollen Missouri, Mississippi and Illinois rivers.

With thunderstorms scattered across Illinois, Gov. Jim Edgar ordered 160 members of the National Guard to join the flood-fighting effort.

The Baptist Church was about the only dry spot in Commerce, Mo., said Connie Thompson, whose husband is pastor of the hilltop church in the town 110 miles south of St. Louis.

“It’s worse than ‘93,” Thompson said. “The water this year has gotten places it has never gotten before.”

About 90 percent of the 150 residents had been forced from their homes by the flooding, she said.

“For the most part, the people have pretty much banded together. Here in town, whoever needs help the worst, we go there.”

Edina, in far northeastern Missouri, got 2 inches of rain in less than 30 minutes. Strong thunderstorms were reported around Bowling Green, about 70 miles north of St. Louis, and near Branson in southwestern Missouri. By late afternoon, thundershowers began rolling through St. Louis.

Upstream from St. Louis, near the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, parts of St. Charles County remained under water. Crews spent the day filling sandbags for people living along streams and creeks that might rise again.

Farther upstream in the Missouri River’s watershed, heavy rain fell overnight in south-central Nebraska, with 3.4 inches at Kenesaw.

Along the eastern side of the Mississippi Valley, volunteers and inmates filled sandbags along the rising Illinois River in Illinois’ Morgan and Scott counties, where the guard members were activated.

“The work is going fast and feverish,” said Sheila Dusterhaus, a village trustee in the Illinois River town of Meredosia.

Dusterhaus said the river was about 2 feet from the top of a levee near one neighborhood on the north side of town, and about 10 families had already been evacuated.

The town held its annual Riverfest despite the flooding.

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