Sewage, chemicals in floodwaters poses dangers

Olive Rios
May 21, 2017

Also on Thursday afternoon, Valley Park Mayor Michael Pennise announced that the city's evacuation order would be lifted at 8 a.m. on Friday, allowing residents to return to their homes.

Decreasing water levels also prompted officials to reopen westbound lanes of busy Interstate 44 in St. Louis County. A pool of water next to the highway at the Meramec Bottom Rd. exit made its way onto part of the onramp, the shoulder, and two southbound lanes by rush hour Wednesday.

But authorities warn the threat isn't over.

In Missouri, a small levee breach along the Missouri River flooded farmland southwest of St. Louis. Flash flooding is particularly risky at night or the early morning hours when motorists often can not see they are driving into floodwaters until it's too late.

Hundreds of residents in Eureka, Missouri, piled high walls of sandbags to guard their homes from the rising Meramec River in suburban St. Louis, said Mark Diedrich, director of the St. Louis County Office of Emergency Management.

Jansen says the biggest concern is over floodwater headed toward communities in Lawrence County.

"Right now it's all about the protection of lives and property", Hutchinson said, adding that he has no doubt that a federal disaster declaration will eventually come from Washington, which will provided additional money and resources. Another 2 to 4 inches of rain is expected in parts of the Midwest through Thursday.

Meanwhile, a portion of the Black River in northern Arkansas may remain above flood stage into early next week. While the floods are tragic, the rain's overall effect on the Midwest landscape is stunning.

Some people who work in Vienna said that whenever the roads get flooded, it's like they live on an island.

One student said the district will most likely be closed for the remainder of the week.

According to the Pocahontas Star Herald, 150 homes were evacuated and some 50 people were forced into shelters that were set up by officials at the local nursing home.

Heavy rains have swollen many rivers to record levels in parts of Missouri, Illinois, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

Those affected by catastrophic flooding in northeast Arkansas now face more rain.

The Meramec reached record and near-record levels at several towns after torrential rains last weekend caused a sudden jump in the river level. Officials say dozens of homes have been destroyed or suffered major damage.

In Illinois, much of the central and southern parts of the state are under flood warnings. Nine deaths are blamed on the flooding.

Health officials also warned residents that raw sewage, chemicals and other risky material in floodwater created contamination concerns.

"The threat of flooding in the South and Midwest is far from over, says senior meteorologist Jon Erdman".

Rain is expected to hover around northeast Arkansas and southeast Missouri all day Thursday and into the evening. But the mess left behind was substantial.

The Meramec River, which travels through suburbs of St. Louis, rose to a record 46.11 feet after weeks of heavy rainfall. It comes as an earthen levee for the Black River near Pocahontas is apparently no longer able to hold back the water.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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