March 22, 2008 in Nation/World

Rising waters have residents uneasy

Christopher Leonard Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Area residents congregate on Highway 141 next to floodwaters that closed a portion of the highway Friday afternoon in Valley Park, Mo. Associated Press
(Full-size photo)

DUTCHTOWN, Mo. – Flood-weary residents in Missouri, Arkansas and Ohio fought to save their homes Friday after heavy rainstorms pushed swollen rivers out of their banks, and a fresh snowstorm blew through parts of the Upper Midwest.

Along the Meramec River in eastern Missouri, residents of Valley Park hoped the town’s $49 million earthen levee, built in 2005 to withstand a 100-year flood, would pass its first big test. The surging Meramec was expected to crest at a record 40 feet today – 24 feet above flood stage.

The Army Corps of Engineers and Missouri Public Safety said the levee was in good shape, but some residents decided to leave for higher ground just in case.

“The biggest thing is not knowing what to expect,” said Donna Gerstein-Russell, who moved to the area in January.

Heavy snow fell or was expected from Minnesota to Ohio. Milwaukee got 14 inches Friday and 10 inches fell in Red Wing, Minn.

The timing of the storm was disappointing for dozens of Wisconsin church officials who decided to cancel Good Friday services.

Snow forced the cancellation of more than 450 flights and delayed numerous others at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, one of the world’s busiest. Many flights were also canceled at Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Michigan, where up to 12 inches of snow was expected in areas.

Parts of the Midwest got a foot of rain over a 36-hour period this week, causing widespread flash flooding. The worst flooding happened in smaller rivers across the nation’s midsection. Major channels such as the Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio rivers saw only minor flooding.

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