CLARKSVILLE, Mo. — The fast-rising Mississippi River was making travel difficult Saturday, both on the river and for those simply trying to get across it.
The Mississippi, Missouri and other Midwestern rivers in at least six states have surged since torrential rains drenched the region over the past few days. At least two deaths are blamed on flash flooding and a third was suspected, while crews in Indiana were searching for a man whose car was swept away.
The National Weather Service predicted what it characterizes as “major” flooding on the Mississippi from the Quad Cities to just north of St. Louis by this weekend, with similar projections farther south into early next week. Some smaller rivers are expected to see record flooding.
People in and around Louisiana, Mo., about 95 miles north of St. Louis, were facing potential travel woes after the Champ Clark Bridge was closed Saturday because of high water on the Illinois side. It was the second Mississippi River crossing to close in two days.
To get across the river, people in the Louisiana area had to drive 35 miles north to Hannibal, Mo., or 50-plus miles south to suburban St. Louis.
Erica Campbell, whose rented home in a low-lying area was flooded for the second time in three years, said that she’s had enough. Campbell, her husband and their eight kids are packing.
“We’re planning to move to the country — as far away from water as I can get,” the 35-year-old said.
If crossing the river was difficult, traveling it was essentially impossible. The water was moving too swiftly, prompting the Army Corps of Engineers to close most of the locks between the Quad Cities and near St. Louis. Barge traffic had halted, slowing the movement of items such as coal, grain and other goods.
In Hannibal — Mark Twain’s home town — a steady influx of tourists climbed atop the earthen levee for a look at the river. Steve Terry, owner and captain of the Mark Twain Riverboat, has put excursions on hold since Thursday, with no end in sight.
Mississippi River levels vary greatly but are typically highest in the spring, so minor flooding is not uncommon. But when river levels exceed flood stage by several feet, serious problems can occur.
Two people have died from flash flooding. A 64-year-old man’s car was swept away and submerged Friday night after he tried to cross a flooded road north of Indianapolis. Authorities were searching for a second motorist in the same area, as officers heard someone yell and found a truck but not the driver.
On Thursday, a De Soto, Mo., woman died while trying to cross a flooded road.