orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

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April 20, 2013

Floodwaters rising after storms deluge heartland

(Continued)

ST. LOUIS —

Lindemann said Clarksville has opted against a levee or flood wall partly because of the cost, and partly because residents like the view.

Also unprotected is Grafton, Ill., a tourist town near St. Louis that sits at the convergence of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers. But flooding happens so often there that people are taking it in stride.

"If you live here, you understand the river," Mayor Tom Thompson said. "We'll get through this."

The main thoroughfare leading into town — the Great River Road — was expected to be closed off by midday Saturday, and riverside merchants were clearing out merchandise. Among them was Laurie Wild, 51, who scrambled with volunteers to save her artisan shop's wares — jewelry, pottery, textiles and wood carvings.

"It's a mess," the St. Louis transplant said. "We knew what we were getting into when we moved here. It's a beautiful town, and we'll be here after."

On Friday afternoon, the Army Corps of Engineers said most of the locks and dams from the Quad Cities to near St. Louis were closed due to the flood, effectively halting barge and other traffic on that part of the Mississippi. Four Illinois River locks were also shut down.

Widespread flash-flooding accompanied the week's rains. An 80-year-old woman died in De Soto, Mo., about 40 miles southwest of St. Louis, when a creek flooded a street and swept away her car.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency because of "rapidly rising rivers" and activated the Missouri National Guard for deployment to threatened Mississippi River towns.

And in Michigan, Midland County Sheriff Scott Stephenson said a "major" rupture emerged in the Kawkawlin Dam, a 12-foot breach sending water through the structure. There were no reports of injuries.

___

Associated Press reporters Don Babwin, Jason Keyser and Tammy Webber in Chicago contributed to this report.

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