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Levee failures along Mississippi, Missouri and Arkansas rivers prompt mandatory evacuation orders

By Brian Lada, AccuWeather meteorologist and staff writer
By Kevin Byrne, AccuWeather staff writer
June 03, 2019, 6:53:49 AM EDT


Residents in several communities located near the swollen Mississippi, Missouri and Arkansas rivers were forced to flee their homes late last week and over the weekend following levee failures.

Lincoln County Emergency Management officials called for an evacuation to the areas protected by the Pin Oak Levee in Lincoln County, Missouri, Sunday after the levee overtopped early that morning.

According to officials, the levee was breached Sunday afternoon, and Emergency Management warned once more for people to evacuate.

Further north in Iowa, a flood barrier along the swollen Mississippi River failed Saturday, flooding four to six blocks of downtown Burlington, a city of about 25,000 people that is 170 miles (274 kilometers) southeast of Des Moines.

The large, sand-filled barrier gave way on Saturday afternoon. Some businesses in the downtown area were forced to evacuate, according to the Associated Press.

Another levee breach in northwestern Missouri caused officials to conduct water rescues by boat in the town of Levasy on Saturday. No injuries were reported.

That occurred after residents in West Quincy, Missouri, were forced to flee to higher ground late last week due to a levee failure near the already bloated Mississippi River.

(AP Photo/Michael Woods)

The Arkansas River floods along Adams Street Thursday, May 30, 2019, in Van Buren, Ark.

(Twitter/@WhistlePig11)

A group of men on horseback trudge through the floodwaters to check on cattle about a mile from the Holla Bend levee breach on Highway 155 in Yell County, Arkansas on Friday, May 31, 2019.

(AP Photo/Hannah Grabenstein)

Flood waters surround homes, Thursday, May 30, 2019 in Fort Smith, Ark. The Arkansas River held steady at record levels Thursday.

(AP Photo/Hannah Grabenstein)

Flood waters cover streets, Thursday, May 30, 2019 in Fort Smith, Ark. The Arkansas River held steady at record levels Thursday, putting enormous pressure on aging levees and offering little relief to areas enduring historic flooding.

(AP Photo/Hannah Grabenstein)

Flood waters surround homes, Thursday, May 30, 2019 in Fort Smith, Ark.

(AP Photo/Michael Woods)

Traffic moves over the I-540 bridge as the Arkansas River floods along Adams Street Thursday, May 30, 2019, in Van Buren, Ark.

(AP Photo/Michael Woods)

Fort Smith police block off the Garrison Ave. bridge in Fort Smith, Ark., as the Arkansas River floods parts of downtown Fort Smith Thursday, May 30, 2019.

(AP Photo/Michael Woods)

Local residents watch as the Arkansas River floods Harry E. Kelley River Park Thursday, May 30, 2019, in Fort Smith, Ark.

(AP Photo/Michael Woods)

The Arkansas River floods Harry E. Kelley River Park in Fort Smith Thursday, May 30, 2019, in Fort Smith, Ark.

(AP Photo/Michael Woods)

The Arkansas River floods Harry E. Kelley River Park Thursday, May 30, 2019, in Fort Smith, Ark.

(AP Photo/Michael Woods)

The Arkansas River floods the area near the U.S. Marshals Museum in Fort Smith, Ark., Thursday, May 30, 2019.

(AP Photo/Michael Woods)

Staff sergeant Curtis Webb, left, and other soldiers with the Arkansas National Guard, 2nd Battalion, 142nd Field Artillery helps stand watch as the Arkansas River floods Harry E. Kelley River Park Thursday, May 30, 2019, in Fort Smith, Ark.

(Twitter photo/ Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson)

"Thankful for all the work the @ArkansasGuard is doing in response to Arkansas' record flooding & for facilitating today's aerial tour," Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said on Twitter Thursday night.

(Twitter photo/ Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson)

"There's much work to do, but the spirit of Arkansas is strong & the support from residents across the state has been tremendous," Gov. Hutchinson said on Twitter Thursday night.

(Twitter photo/ Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson)

Gov. Hutchinson surveyed the flooded areas on Thursday in a flyover tour. (Twitter photo/ Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson)

(Twitter photo/ Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson)

After the flyover tour, Gov. Hutchinson held a press conference about the floods on Thursday evening.

(Twitter photo/ Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson)

Gov. Hutchinson toured the flooded areas in Central Arkansas, including Toad Suck Lock and Dam, Wednesday morning to monitor water levels and check levees.

(Twitter photo/ Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson)

Along with surveying the flood damage, Gov. Hutchinson "also released an additional $250,000 in emergency funding so that they can quickly respond to the needs of our cities and counties," according to his tweet.

(Twitter photo/ Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson)

On Wednesday, Gov. Hutchinson sent a letter to President Donald Trump requesting a Presidential Emergency Declaration for Arkansas in response to record flooding.

(Twitter photo/ Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson)

"I appreciate the President’s support, and the work from our state’s congressional delegation," Gov. Hutchinson said on Twitter on Wednesday.

(Twitter photo/Arkansas Department of Correction)

The Arkansas Department of Correction filled sandbags for use by several cities and towns on Sunday, May 26, as multiple communities across the state are impacted by flooding.

(AP Photo/Hannah Grabenstein)

Flood waters surround homes in Fort Smith, Ark. Wednesday, May 29, 2019 as water from the Arkansas River continue to rise.

(Hannah Grabenstein/AP)

Father and son Brad and Bart Hindley, take a boat to Brad's flooded house in Fort Smith, Ark., Wednesday, May 29, 2019. Brad said he doesn't live in a flood plain, but flood waters from the Arkansas River continue to rise.

(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

A flood barrier is erected through downtown Hamburg, Iowa, Wednesday, May 29, 2019, as spoiled household items from the previous flooding litters a home's front yard.


The levee breach took place along the Durgens Creek, which flows into the Mississippi River just upstream of West Quincy.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office issued the evacuation orders for West Quincy, Taylor and Fabius Village shortly after 6:30 p.m. CDT Thursday.

The Quincy Bayview Bridge was shut down for a time late Thursday to allow officials to respond to the levee failure and limit non-essential traffic into West Quincy, according to The Herald-Whig. The bridge has since reopened.

In a Friday morning Facebook post, Marion County Sheriff Jimmy Shinn said work continued all night to fight the problem area of the levee. Officials with the levee district are still advising that it remains a serious situation, he added.

"Our levee is being damaged by all the water coming down from the breach up north," Shinn told AccuWeather.  "We are currently fighting it to protect our area. We have a hot spot that is still serious but are continuing to fight it and hold back waters."

There is concern for another levee failure on Durgens Creek late this weekend.

River flooding June 2


The Mississippi River near Quincy crested less than a foot away from the all-time record level on Saturday. The river is receding but may not drop below major flood stage until next weekend.

Farther south, the Arkansas River, which flows through Oklahoma and Arkansas before emptying out into the Mississippi River, has swelled well out of its banks. Both states have declared a state of emergency in response to the flooding and are working with the Army Corps of Engineers to help to manage the water levels.


Early Friday morning, the community of Holla Bend, Arkansas, located about 75 miles northwest of Little Rock, became endangered when the Dardanelle Levee breached shortly before 1 a.m. local time, according to KATV in Little Rock. Residents were told to evacuate immediately.

About 160 homes were under the evacuation order, according to the Associated Press.

Yell County Judge Mark Thone told KATV that the nearby community of Dardanelle is safe for now.


Dardanelle Mayor Jimmy Witt said on Facebook on Saturday morning that a recent hole in the levee has equalized.

"That means that the flow of water toward Darnanelle has slowed way down," he said. "The temporary levee is in place on the south end of town, and I believe it could really help."

Witt followed that statement up on Sunday morning saying, "Right now, we are not going to be doing any sandbagging."

The Arkansas River at Dardanelle remains around a foot above the previous record flood stage of 44.1 feet and may not drop below that level until Monday night.

ar river


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On Friday night, a flash flood warning was issued for central Pulaski County in Arkansas due to a potential levee breach. However, this warning was later canceled.

"The primary levee in North Little Rock is NOT in immediate danger," the National Weather Service said, citing local emergency management officials. "Rather, a containment berm was breached at a petroleum facility. The Flash Flood Warning was issued as a precaution and has since been canceled."

Meanwhile, in Howard County, Missouri, the Missouri River topped a levee on Friday. With the anticipated failure, officials issued mandatory evacuation orders for the river bottom from Petersburg to Rocheport, Missouri.


More than 300 roads in Missouri were underwater last week, according to the Missouri Department of Transportation.

In eastern Missouri, the state Highway Patrol's Water Division reported that the body of 57-year-old Lane Panasuk was recovered Thursday evening from Harry S. Truman Lake in Henry County, but officials said they did not know why he was in the water.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers warned visitors about high water levels that had closed most of the campgrounds around the lake and a road over its dam.

AccuWeather meteorologists are expecting more rounds of rain through the first full week of June. Any additional heavy rain could make matters even worse in the region.

“It can take a month or more for runoff from heavy rain over the middle of the nation to flow to the Mississippi Delta,” AccuWeather Senior Metorologist Alex Sosnowski said.

Download the free AccuWeather app to see when rain will return to your area and to be alerted as severe weather approaches.

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