The Latest: Kayaker’s body found; 4th death from flooding
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The Latest on flooding in the Midwest (all times local):
The body of a kayaker missing since Wednesday has been found in a swollen southwest Missouri creek, the fourth person to die in the latest round of spring flooding.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. John Lueckenhoff says troopers found the body of 35-year-old Scott M. Puckett of Forsyth, Missouri, Friday afternoon in Bull Creek. The body of his friend, 23-year-old Alex Ekern, was found Thursday.
Puckett and Ekern were among three men who began paddling Wednesday afternoon in the creek near the small town of Walnut Shade. The patrol says they were swept over a low-water bridge and caught in what is called a hydraulic, which creates a washing-machine effect that is hard to escape.
One of the men was able to escape and climbed a steep bank seeking help.
Flooding also claimed the life of a camper found Wednesday after he was caught in waters from an overflowed creek near the town of Ava, also in southwest Missouri. And in northern Indiana, a 2-year-old was killed when his mother drove onto a flooded road.
The Mississippi River is now closed to all vessel traffic at St. Louis, the result of severe flooding.
The U.S. Coast Guard on Friday shut down the river for a five-mile stretch, citing not only the extremely high water but also the swift current.
The river is already more than 8 feet (2.4 meters) above flood stage at St. Louis and expected to rise another 4 feet (1.2 meters) by Monday.
Closure of river traffic at one of the largest cities on the Mississippi is a huge blow for commerce since many goods are shipped on barges up and down the river.
It isn’t clear when the river will reopen at St. Louis.
The latest round of Midwestern flooding has claimed at least three lives, closed hundreds of roads and forced residents of threatened towns to shore up threatened levees with sandbags as waters rise to historic levels in some communities.
The National Weather Service issued flood warnings Friday along a large swath of the Mississippi River, as well as flash flood watches for parts of Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas after recent rounds of heavy rain.
In southwest Missouri, authorities are searching for a paddler whose kayak overturned in a flooded creek, one day after finding the body of his friend, 23-year-old Alex Ekern. They were among three men who began paddling Wednesday afternoon on Bull Creek near the small town of Walnut Shade when they were swept over a low-water bridge.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol says one of the kayakers was eventually swept downstream, climbed a steep bank and sought help.
Flooding also claimed the life of a camper who was found Wednesday after he was caught in waters from an overflowed creek near the town of Ava, also in southwest Missouri. And in northern Indiana, a 2-year-old was killed when his mother drove onto a flooded road.
Swollen Missouri waterways are inundating farmland, closing roads and straining levees.
The National Weather Service has issued flood warnings for Friday for parts of southern Missouri and stretches of the state along the Mississippi River.
The Mississippi is expected to crest Friday afternoon in Hannibal at the third-highest level on records. The Hannibal Courier-Post reports that the height of the city’s flood gates and levee will be raised as a precaution. Hannibal Board of Public Works general manager Heath Hall says that community is “preparing for the worst” but was hopeful that “reality is better.”
The surging Mississippi also was causing problems in West Alton, where the town’s 500 or so residents were under a voluntary evacuation.
Along the Osage River, high waters are inundating campsites at the Mari-Osa Campground.