The soaked levee did hold, and Mayor Michael Pennise said Thursday that residents could return starting at 8 a.m. Friday. Eastbound lanes were reopened about five hours later. Pinter said he talks to people on a daily basis who don't realize that they are still in a floodplain behind the levee and thought officials would more clearly warn them of such a threat. Levees in some communities were breached or topped by high water levels. The levees are in rural areas and the impact is mostly on farmland.
In Ozark County, Missouri, flood waters wiped away an entire bridge.
Heavy downpours that started last weekend have caused waterways to surge in Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois and other states. Pocahontas, which is in Randolph County, had its Black River levee breached Wednesday morning. Across the state, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said some 500 people have been evacuated.
Many of them were also damaged during the floods of December 2015. "Use caution as flooding and rain continue throughout much of the state". Video out of Lafayette, Louisiana shows a school bus trying to navigate through a flooded roadway earlier this week.
Along one of the closed highways, emergency responders with the Jackson County sheriff's office have performed four water rescues within the past two days, according to a Facebook post. More than 100 members of the Arkansas National Guard are assisting with the flood-fighting effort.
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Meanwhile, residents of central and southern IL prepped for their own coming floods as rain continued to fall.
Flooding has forced Missouri transportation officials to close Interstate 55, along with other major routes Wednesday, effectively cutting off St. Louis from any roads to the south.
So far, nine flooding records have been broken and several more are expected in the coming days, Erdman said.
Travel was restricted on and near parts of the Mississippi River, including a 14.5-mile stretch of the river at St. Louis that was closed to barges and other vessels because of high, swift current. Health officials say children should not play in floodwater, and that children and pets should avoid toys soaked in the water. The Missouri Department of Natural offers a disaster resource webpage at dnr.mogov/disaster.htm that provides residents with important information about preparing for and recovering from recent floods, as well as reporting any potential hazardous substance containers or propane tanks that have been affected by the flooding.
Meanwhile, a portion of the Black River in northern Arkansas may remain above flood stage into early next week. But the mess left behind was substantial. "A small creek would rise fairly quickly, and will come down fairly quickly", said Mark Fuchs of the National Weather Service in St. Louis. A levee at Valley Park, Missouri, is holding, as is a sandbag levee consisting of 250,000 bags in nearby Eureka.