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Floodwaters breach Mississippi River levee


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Kristina
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« on: June 27, 2008, 11:01:31 am »

Floodwaters breach Mississippi River levee
Story Highlights
NEW: Muskrat holes weaken levee north of St. Louis, Missouri, officials say

Late-night rains prove too much for levee to handle

Mississippi River being held back by sandbags

Latest breach threatens 100 homes

Next Article in U.S.



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(CNN) -- Muskrat holes weakened a Mississippi River levee on Friday, allowing floodwaters to pour into Lincoln County, Missouri, just north of St. Louis, officials said.



Water pours through a levee break Friday in Lincoln County, Missouri, north of St. Louis.

 Sheriff's deputies alerted residents to evacuate, yelling "get out, the levee broke" as they went door-to-door in the affected areas, according to an Associated Press report.

Winfield resident Debbie Halcomb, 52, heard warning sirens and knew her worst fears were realized, the AP reported.

"I was hoping it would hold, but it didn't," the AP quoted Halcomb as saying. "I think we probably lost it on this last bunch of rain."

Though overnight rains were reported in the area, officials speaking at a Friday morning press conference said muskrats looking for food or making dens had dug into the earthern levee, weakening it enough that nature took care of the rest.

The river had been forecast to crest at 37 feet on Saturday. The levee it broke around 5:30 a.m. Friday.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had been fighting "down slides" that had occurred in two separate 100-foot-sections of the levee in the past several days. Down slides occur when portions of the earthen levee shift because of water seepage.

The Corps said that the Mississippi, having exceeded the original levee, was being held back by sandbags placed by volunteers and the National Guard.

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The levee was the last one remaining in Lincoln County and was protecting about 100 homes. Almost 700 homes in the area have been damaged by floodwater.

President Bush on Wednesday declared 22 Missouri counties to be disaster areas. The declaration makes federal funding available to state and local governments for disaster-related damages.
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