- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 17, 2008

ST. LOUIS | Just a few months after near-record flooding across the Midwest, roads were underwater again Tuesday in Missouri and elsewhere as utility crews were struggling to restore electrical service to thousands of customers after enduring the remnants of Hurricane Ike.

“The old-timers knew it was wise to leave the sandbags,” said Arnold City Manager Matthew Unrein, whose town south of St. Louis still has the sandbag defenses it built when it was threatened by floods in March.

The Meramec is expected to reach 18 feet above flood stage in Arnold on Thursday.

Several rivers in Missouri were rising toward crests expected later this week, some more than 15 feet above flood stage. Flooding already was occurring at several towns along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, including St. Louis.

The President Casino on the St. Louis riverfront shut down for the third time since April because of high water and the boulevard in front of the Gateway Arch was closed.

Hundreds of roads were flooded across the state, including about 200 state roads and highways.

The National Weather Service is projecting moderate flooding from Hannibal south to the convergence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. Major flooding is expected from St. Louis south to Cape Girardeau, although few homes are expected to be affected.

At Hermann, the Missouri is expected to crest 11.5 feet above flood stage Thursday, enough to flood 37,000 acres of farmland and threaten at least two businesses.

Ike dumped as much as 8 inches of rain on parts of Indiana, Illinois and Missouri after coming ashore in Texas during the weekend. It spawned a tornado in Arkansas that damaged several buildings and hurricane-force wind in Ohio.

The devastating rain and wind in the Midwest brought Ike’s death toll to at least 40 in 10 states from the Gulf Coast to the upper Ohio Valley.

The violent weather also blacked out more than 2 million homes and businesses across the Midwest, most of them in Ohio.

The governors of Illinois, Ohio and Kentucky declared states of emergency.

Several utilities said many customers might not get power back until the weekend, but Louisville Gas and Electric says it could be two weeks before service is fully restored to Kentucky’s largest city.

More than a half-million Kentucky customers lost power at the height of the storm. “This is the biggest outage on record in the commonwealth of Kentucky,” said Gov. Steve Beshear, a Republican.

He said half of the state’s 120 counties reported storm damage.

The rain from Ike combined with earlier storms in southern and western Michigan to rupture a dam in Berrien County and cause massive sewage overflows and street flooding, authorities said.

The rain also overwhelmed Chicago’s 4,300 miles of sewers - backing up into homes and inundating streets and parking lots.

Indiana National Guard troops were activated Sunday and Monday to help evacuate about 5,000 residents from flooded parts of Munster, Ind., during the weekend.

AP writers Kantele Franko, Bruce Schreiner and Michael Tarm contributed to this report.

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