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Heavy rains unleash deadly US flooding

August 9, 2013

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Torrential rains lashed the U.S. midsection on Thursday, causing flash flooding that killed a woman and a child, damaged homes and forced multiple water rescues.

Up to 10 inches (254 millimeters) of rain pounded Missouri overnight. A woman died in the far southwestern corner of the state where creek water washed over a highway, sweeping away her car.

Authorities in the south-central Missouri town of Waynesville continued to search for 23-year-old Jessica D. Lee, whose car was swept up in a flash flood early Tuesday. The body of her 4-year-old son, Elyjah, was found Tuesday, hours after his mother made a distress call from her mobile phone.

Flash flood warnings were common in Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Tennessee. And things could get worse: Heavy rain is in the forecast into the weekend.

National Weather Service meteorologist Drew Albert in Springfield, Missouri, said the rain is the result of a storm front that has stalled over the plains.

Missouri has gotten the worst of it. Some gauges near Waynesville recorded 15 inches (380 millimeters) of rain in a two-day period. One-day totals of 6 inches (152 millimeters) or more were common across the width of the southern part of the state.

Soggy south-central Kansas was under a flood warning after up to 6 inches (152 millimeters) of rain fell early Thursday in the center of the state. Since the storms began Sunday, hundreds of Kansas homes have been damaged, mostly by water in basements and sewage backups, said Megan Hammersmith, director of the Central Kansas Chapter of the American Red Cross.

An estimated 10 inches (254 millimeters) of rain fell overnight in parts of Benton County, Ark., prompting the county to declare an emergency. Benton County Emergency Management director Robert McGowen said crews have performed 15 water rescues. More than three dozen roads and bridges were closed, but no injuries were reported.

Heavy rain in Tennessee also triggered flash flooding that required several water rescues. Nashville firefighters waded into waist-deep water to lead residents of one apartment complex to higher ground. Others in the region had to be rescued from balconies and rooftops. High water even stopped traffic near the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center.

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AP reporters Maria Sudekum Fisher in St. Louis and Ken. A Miller in Oklahoma City contributed to this report.

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