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Torrential Rain, Winds, Flooding Plaguing Much Of The Midwest Hundreds Of Residents Evacuated; Four Die In Missouri

Tue., April 30, 1996, midnight

The rain-swollen White River had hopped its banks and was sweeping through Danny and Anne Williams’ back yard, just inches from their home.

“That over there,” Williams said, pointing at a halfsubmerged wooden birdhouse, “that’s my danger-zone marker. When I can’t see it, I know I’m in trouble.”

Through much of the Midwest on Monday, people were in trouble after torrential rains and high winds had swept through the region for several days.

Four deaths in Missouri were blamed on the weather, including a fisherman whose boat went over a 4-foot spillway and capsized.

In Illinois, officials evacuated about 400 homes and 163 nursing home residents Monday in the East St. Louis area. Another 500 homes were threatened, said Rex Coble, deputy director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

Up to 9 inches of rain have fallen in central and southern Indiana since Sunday and extensive flooding was reported. Hundreds of people were evacuated and several counties reported that every main road was closed.

“We’ve had a 100-year rain yesterday and today,” John Payne, a retired weather watcher for the National Weather Service in Evansville, Ind., said Monday.

In Waverly, another fork of the river that flooded the Williams’ back yard was continuing to rise Monday night, lapping just feet from the front doors of homes. The National Guard was helping residents sandbag the river.

Sean Walden, a Harrison Township Fire Department employee who lives nearby, arrived to help at 6 p.m. Monday. In 45 minutes, the river level had gone up a foot.

“Man, you can see the river rising,” Walden said.

Twenty miles south of St. Louis, mudslides closed roads and knocked a freight train engine off its tracks, trapping three people for about an hour before they were rescued Monday morning.

At Grant’s Farm in St. Louis County, two of Anheuser-Busch’s famed Clydesdales died when they were struck by lightning Sunday night at the brewery’s petting zoo and exotic animal farm.

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