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Deja Vu in Missouri, Illinois as Waters Rise

May 18, 1995

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) _ It was all too familiar as heavy rain pushed creeks and rivers beyond their beds across Missouri and southern Illinois on Wednesday.

The St. Louis area alone reported up to 6 inches of rain in 24 hours ending Wednesday morning.

Pumps worked to draw water off swollen creeks flanking the historic French-settled town of Ste. Genevieve, south of St. Louis on the Mississippi River. Mobile home residents in St. Charles County, north of St. Louis, headed for higher ground. Both communities suffered during the 1993 floods.

The Missouri River was closed to navigation between Kansas City and St. Louis to ease pressure on straining levees, some of which have yet to be repaired.

Across the Mississippi in southern Illinois, a levee break along Canteen Creek in Caseyville forced 116 people from a nursing home, St. Clair County Emergency Management Director Norm Acker said.

Many secondary roads in Madison, St. Clair, Clinton and Marion counties were impassable because of rising water, and more rain was forecast.

``We’re just now getting together boats to evacuate people from some trailer parks _ probably 200 to 300 people,″ said Madison County Emergency Services Director Jack Quigley. As much as 8 inches of rain have fallen in the county in the past two days.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol blamed water on the road for a traffic death in Benton County.

Along with the Missouri, flood warnings were issued for several northern Missouri rivers, and Gov. Mel Carnahan declared a statewide emergency.

In central Missouri, efforts to erect a sandbag wall around Jefferson City Memorial Airport’s small terminal _ swamped by nine feet of water two summers ago and with renovations completed just two weeks ago _ were abandoned after about five hours as the Missouri crept closer.

``The river is coming up fast, too fast to do a lot of good on sandbagging,″ said Dave Spicer, emergency operations chief for Jefferson City and Cole County. ``But we learned a lot in 1993 and our people know how to move fast.″

Both runways were closed as the last of about 50 small planes soared away into the nonstop rain.

Shirley Love, operator of the airport’s cafe for just over two weeks, confessed heartache as she packed up to go. She’d relocated May 1 from another location washed out in 1993.

``We lost too much in ’93, and were just beginning to get back up on our feet. We don’t want to take any chances because it’s just too hard to come back,″ Mrs. Love said.

In West Virginia, meanwhile, rain meant most of the state was under a flash flood watch, with numerous secondary roads closed by flooding.

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