ST. LOUIS (CN) – Government buyouts have limited the damages this time, but that is little consolation for residents still left along the Mississippi River as flood waters are approaching the record levels of 1993. The river is expected to crest next week at near-record levels in many areas. The rising waters breached two levees in Western Illinois Wednesday and could flood up to 47 square miles of rural farmland.
Nineteen levees already have been breached or topped by the rising waters. Flooding has caused more than $1.5 billion damages in Iowa alone. Almost 25,000 were forced from their homes in Cedar Rapids and 19 buildings at the University of Iowa were flooded. Now that water is headed south.
The National Weather Service expects the Mississippi River to crest 10 feet above flood stage at St. Louis – 1 foot lower than in 1993. The crest at Canton, Mo,. could reach 27.5 feet, just shy of the 27.88 level in 1993.
Crests at Quincy, Ill. and Hannibal, Mo. are expected to be 15 feet above flood stage, right at the 1993 mark.
Inmates, the National Guard and students have been sandbagging in Clarksville, Mo., a town of about 500 between Hannibal and St. Louis. Five blocks of the town are already under water.
The damage could have been worse without the government’s assistance after the flood of 1993, which caused more than $12 billion in damages. The government has bought out 9,000 homeowners and turned much of the land into recreational areas. The Federal Emergency Management Agency moved or flood-proofed 30,000 properties.