Stranded residents rescued amid flooding near Kansas City

4 weeks 2 days 2 hours ago Thursday, March 21 2019 Mar 21, 2019 Thursday, March 21, 2019 3:08:00 PM CDT March 21, 2019 in News
By: The Associated Press

KANSAS CITY (AP) — Authorities have rescued several people stranded by flooding in northwest Missouri as the swollen Missouri River continues to cause damage and strain levees in several Midwestern states.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol said water patrol troopers worked into the night Wednesday, pulling four people from homes and three others from a boat that ran out of gas around the small town of Craig. People stacked sandbags at a nearby water treatment plant in Forest City on Thursday, while another levee breach across the river from Atchison, Kansas, threatened two towns where most residents had already left.

The flooding in Craig began after yet another levee breach, and several homes were inundated with water. A local ethanol plant was also shut down amid the flooding.

"People are trying to get items out and preparing for rising floodwaters," Missouri State Highway Patrol Sergeant Jake Angle said. "You are going to see more reports coming out of breaches and water over the roadway as the day goes on."

The Missouri River has swelled following heavy rains and snowmelt earlier in March. The flooding has claimed three lives, damaged thousands of homes and busted about 20 levees in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said water also was flowing over several other levees, including one near Missouri's Bean Lake.

Deb Hooper, who lives near the lake, told KMBC-TV that she has been packing for a week and even removed the water heater, but she hopes to hold out.

"Last night, they came and told us it was, like, 2 inches (5 centimeters) below the levee," she said, adding that she was warned to leave but declined. "I'm, like, 'No, there ain't no water yet.'"

In southwest Iowa, barriers protecting about 2,300 people and thousands of acres of farmland simply weren't high enough to withstand the river, said Pat Sheldon, president of the Benton-Washington Levee District.

Sheldon told television station KNCY on Wednesday that the river levee "performed brilliantly for what it was designed to do, but it just sent more water at us than we had height." He said it took $150 million to repair his district's levees after flooding in 2011, but he estimates it could cost $500 million to do so after the disaster in 2019.

In Missouri, the river was expected to crest Friday in St. Joseph at the third-highest flood level on record. Water was filling a casino parking lot in the city, though only about half a dozen homes in the city aren't protected by a federal levee. Military planes were evacuated last week from nearby Rosecrans Air National Guard base.

The flooding has also taken a heavy toll on agriculture, inundating tens of thousands of acres, threatening stockpiled grain and killing livestock.

Nebraska's governor said his state has suffered nearly $1.4 billion in estimated losses and damage, including $840 million in crop and cattle losses. Gov. Pete Ricketts also estimated that more than 2,000 homes and 341 businesses have been damaged or destroyed in the floods in Nebraska alone.

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