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Evacuations ordered following levee breaches along Mississippi River north of St. Louis

By Amanda Schmidt, AccuWeather staff writer
May 09, 2019, 4:28:52 AM EDT

Heavy flooding continued inundating towns and farmland along rivers in the Midwest on Monday. The swollen Mississippi River forced road closures and forced people from their homes as high water levels are making their way downstream.

The National Weather Service (NWS) issued flash flood watches and flood warnings Monday for much of eastern Kansas and western Missouri. Flood warnings were also issued for areas along rivers in the central U.S, namely the Mississippi River, which breached levees in multiple places on Monday.

Local news cameras captured dramatic aerial images of the moment floodwaters breached a levee in St. Charles County. Footage of the raging water surging over the Elm Point Levee in St. Charles County astounded those watching in the KSDK newsroom as one of the station's news choppers broadcast images back to the control room. The station posted the video of the breach on Twitter. According to KSDK, the Elm Point Levee is situated between the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, both of which are experiencing flooding.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

St. Charles County firefighters rescue a cat that was found in flood waters St. Charles County, Missouri on May 6, 2019.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

The RV park in St. Charles County, Missouri has been inundated with ten feet of flood water from the Mississippi River on May 6, 2019.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

A breach developed in a dam in St. Charles County, Missouri, flooding farmland on May 6. Hundreds have evacuated as the flood waters from the Mississippi River rise.

(Twitter/Mark Griffin)

The River Des Peres unable to flow into the Mississippi River due to high water on May 6.

(Twitter/Mark Griffin)

The River Des Peres unable to flow into the Mississippi River due to high water on May 6.

(Facebook / FOX2)

Aerial images shot by the FOX2 news copter showed dramatic scenes of flooding north of St. Louis after two levees were breached by the swollen Mississippi River on Monday.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Visitors to downtown Alton, Illinois get a closer look at floodwater from the Mississippi River on May 4, 2019. The red line across the grain facility in the high water mark from the flood of 1993.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

A city worker stands ontop of a flood wall built to keep water from the Mississippi River, from city buildings in Alton, Illinois on May 4, 2019.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Flood water is pumped over the flood wall back into the Mississippi River from a basement in downtown Alton, Illinois on May 4, 2019.

FOX2 posted similar footage on social media showing the Elm Point breach along with a breach of the levee at the nearby Sand Fort Creek. Raw footage sent back from the FOX2 news chopper showed rising floodwaters inundating various buildings, including one that appeared to be leaking oil.

St. Charles County officials advised West Alton residents to evacuate due to the current Mississippi River crest projection of 35.5 feet on Monday. While the water levels in some areas along the Mississippi river are falling, many communities saw continued cresting in Missouri, according to the NWS office in St. Louis.

About 150 people were displaced Sunday following a levee breach in St. Charles, Missouri. Officials from the Cherokee Lakes community posted a message on Twitter seeking volunteers to help sandbag the area on Sunday afternoon, according to the Saint Charles County Twitter page.

Several roads in the county remained closed due to flooding Sunday into Monday.

St. Louis closed its floodgates in advance of the river cresting there Monday morning. The high water also has closed regional locks and dams to navigation, The Associated Press reports.

Also in St. Charles County, a flood watch continued for parks located in the city of St. Peters on Monday. As of Monday morning, floodwaters over topped the agricultural levees and flooded 370 Lakeside Park. The park remains closed until further notice.

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Flooding conditions are not expected to improve as a persistent rainy pattern is anticipated to continue, AccuWeather Meteorologist Brett Rossio cautioned.

“A developing area of low pressure will lift north and east into the Great Plains by midweek, yielding additional heavy rain that will exacerbate the flooding situation along the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers,” Rossio said.

The heaviest rainfall is expected to occur farther up the Mississippi River, but this water will drain down into the St. Louis area.

“There is some indication of a drier pattern by mid-month, which would help ease the flooding situation, but there remains a great deal of uncertainty in this scenario given a rather persistent southern branch storm track keeping the Gulf of Mexico open,” Rossio said. The NWS warned that the Missouri River would remain above flood stage for the next week.

All of this comes on the heels of historic flooding caused in Davenport, Iowa, late last week by the swollen Mississippi River. The town saw its worst flooding since 1993 and officials have blamed multiple fatalities on the record-breaking flooding there.

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