- The Washington Times - Friday, March 22, 2019

More towns in Missouri and Kansas are evacuating Friday morning as the flooding Missouri River breaches levees with further damage and flooding reported across several Midwest states.

The National Weather Service predicted the river will crest in Atchison, Kansas, and St. Joseph, Missouri, at levels that fall just short of those reached during the historic 1993 flood. Several blocks of an industrial area in St. Joseph has been inundated with about 1 foot of water. Across the river from there, about 1,200 residents of the Kansas town of Elwood were urged to leave.

The widespread flooding prompted Gov. Mike Parson to issue a state of emergency Thursday after he toured stricken areas with the state’s Emergency Management Agency director, lawmakers and other officials.

“The rising floodwaters are affecting more Missouri communities and farms, closing more roads and threatening levees, water treatment plants and other critical infrastructure,” Mr. Parson said in a statement.

On Friday morning, Sen. Josh Hawley was surveying damage across Holt County, located in the northwestern portion of the state and running along the swollen Missouri River.

“We will work to see that our farmers, our families and our communities are safe and get the help they need,” the Republican tweeted.

In Kansas, Gov. Laura Kelly issued an executive order easing regulations for motor carriers in an effort to allow them to more quickly bring in necessary supplies and equipment to aid in relief efforts.

The river has swelled following heavy rains and snowmelt earlier this month. The flooding has claimed three lives, damaged thousands of homes and busted about 20 levees in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri.

The flooding has also taken a heavy toll on agriculture, inundating tens of thousands of acres, threatening stockpiled grain and killing livestock, with Nebraska reporting nearly $1.4 billion in estimated losses and damage.

President Trump on Thursday approved Nebraska’s request for federal disaster assistance, which provides federal aid to supplement state, local and tribal recovery efforts. It also opens the door to grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to help affected residents.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said water was also flowing over several other levees, including one near Missouri’s Bean Lake in the Missouri River floodplain.

Deb Hooper, who lives near the lake, told the local ABC News affiliate Thursday that she has been packing for a week and even removed the water heater, but she hopes to hold out.

“Last night, they came and told us it was, like, two inches below the levee,” she said, adding that she was warned to leave but declined. “I’m like, ‘No, there ain’t no water yet.’”

On Thursday in its spring weather outlook report, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warned that more than 200 million Americans are at risk of some flooding in the coming months, as warming weather brings even more water to the plains, Midwest and Mississippi River basin.

This story is based in part on wire service reports.

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