- Associated Press - Saturday, January 2, 2016

The latest developments on flooding in the Midwest (all times local):

7:10 p.m.

The search at a northern Oklahoma lake for a missing country music singer from Arkansas has been suspended for the night.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says it called off the search for 29-year-old Craig Strickland because of darkness.

The patrol said it used rescue dogs and boats in the search on the north end of Kaw Lake, south of the Oklahoma-Kansas state line.

Strickland is the lead singer of the Arkansas-based country-rock band Backroad Anthem. He disappeared during severe storms last Sunday while on a duck hunting trip with friend Chase Morland.

The pair’s capsized boat was found that day. Morland’s body was recovered from the lake Monday.


7 p.m.

President Barack Obama has declared an emergency exists in Missouri because of flooding.

Obama signed the declaration on Saturday. It allows federal aid to be used to help state and local response efforts to storms that began Dec. 22 and flooding that continues.

It also authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon had asked for the declaration.


4:30 p.m.

Gov. Bruce Rauner is again urging people to leave Alexander County homes threatened by levee failures in southern Illinois.

Speaking to reporters Saturday at Carlyle Lake in Clinton County, Rauner said some residents are leaving, but others are staying put. He says the situation is especially “life threatening” because of the risk of hypothermia from cold temperatures.

The Republican says he’s trying to visit as many communities as possible in the 12 counties he’s declared disaster areas and he plans to conclude three days of touring flood-damaged areas on Sunday.

The governor says he’s heartened that Illinois residents are coming together to help people whose homes and businesses have been affected by flooding.


3:30 p.m.

A rural southern Illinois woman says she and her husband will never return to their flood-threatened home.

Vella Friedman’s family is among more than 100 Illinois families who agreed to sell their homes to the government after 2011 flooding but are still waiting for the buyout money. The funds are tied up because Illinois’ Republican governor and Democratic-controlled Legislature are at odds over the state budget.

The Friedmans’ property a few miles from Olive Branch is threatened by the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. Friedman says she sold her kitchen cabinets to a contractor and put other possessions in storage.

Gov. Bruce Rauner visited Olive Branch on Saturday to survey flood damage. Friedman didn’t see him but says she’d like him to settle the budget issues or release money for flood buyouts.


2:50 p.m.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon says he’s asking for a federal emergency declaration in the wake of severe flooding in the St. Louis area.

Nixon’s office said in a release Saturday he has asked for the declaration to help speed the removal of flood debris and help with recovery costs for the St. Louis area, which was hit by historic flooding along the Mississippi and Meramec rivers this week.

Nixon says he’ll ask the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to help collect and dispose of the debris. Nixon made the announcement in Eureka at a dropoff point where flood debris and refuse have been piling up.

If the emergency declaration is approved, the Missouri National Guard will manage the program.


2:15 p.m.

Pets in flooded areas of the Midwest are finding shelter while waiting to be reunited with their owners.

Derk Wright of Union County Animal Control in southern Illinois says about 20 dogs and cats have been rescued from flooded areas since Thursday.

Wright says he plans to take a boat Saturday through flooded areas, which includes farmland, to look for other stranded animals, including a mother donkey and babies on a high knoll in Alexander County.

He says officials plan to feed livestock for now and look into the possibility of moving them, although that would take special efforts like tranquilizing them.

The animals are being kept at the animal control’s shelter, though fairgrounds where there’s a barn could also be used if there are more animals. He says he’s working with Alexander County officials.


12 p.m.

The search for a missing country music singer from Arkansas has resumed at a northern Oklahoma lake.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says the search for 29-year-old Craig Strickland resumed early Saturday on the north end of Kaw Lake, south of the Oklahoma-Kansas state line.

The patrol has been using search dogs, boats with sonar and drag lines and a helicopter in the search. Patrol Lt. Kera Philippi says two dogs were added to the search Saturday.

Strickland is the lead singer of the Arkansas-based country-rock band Backroad Anthem. He disappeared during severe storms Sunday while on a duck hunting trip with friend Chase Morland.

The pair’s capsized boat was found Sunday, along with Strickland’s dog, which was alive. Morland’s body was recovered from the lake Monday.

In Illinois, the discovery of the body of 18-year-old Devan R. Everett has raised the death toll from winter flooding in the state to nine. Illinois Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Patti Thompson says a flood-related death in Livingston County earlier in the week and the discovery of the missing teen’s body Friday morning raised the tally after an earlier report of seven Illinois deaths.


11:35 a.m.

Authorities in southeast Missouri say the Mississippi River crested below predictions there and has begun receding.

Molly Hood, Cape Girardeau’s deputy city manager, said Saturday the river didn’t reach the anticipated high crests, but that was likely from levee breaches on the Illinois side.

She says the impact has been “relatively mild” to Cape Girardeau, a community of nearly 40,000, where about two dozen homes and a dozen businesses have been damaged by the flood. Hood says the city’s floodwall and several levees have protected Cape Girardeau.

But in Arnold, Missouri, outside St. Louis, residents are cleaning up from major flooding earlier this week.

Jay Newman, chef at Frederick’s Pub and Grill in Fenton, says he was mostly stuck in his Arnold home for two days because of flooding.


11 a.m.

Authorities have identified another of the 22 people killed in the winter flood in the Midwest.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol said Saturday that the body of 52-year-old Brian N. Hunt of Halfway was found Friday in southwest Missouri. His vehicle was swept away by floodwaters in Polk County on Dec. 26.

Mike O’Connell of the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency said earlier that Hunt’s body was found just downstream from where his vehicle left the road.

Fifteen of the deaths were in Missouri and seven in Illinois.

Searches continue for a teenager in Illinois, two men in Missouri and a country music singer in Oklahoma.


8:30 a.m.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is continuing his tour of flood-damaged areas in central and southern Illinois.

His six stops on Saturday include Cairo (KEHR’-oh) and Olive Branch. About 20 Illinois National Guard soldiers have been activated to help with recovery efforts.

On Friday, authorities in central Illinois found the body of one of two missing teenagers whose pickup truck had been pulled from floodwaters.

The two 18-year-olds were reported missing on Monday. Divers were concentrating search efforts in flooded areas where one of the teen’s cellphone was tracked. On Friday morning, Devan R. Everett was found in the water near where dive crews found the truck.

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