Evacuations, rescues continue as floodwaters inundate northwest Missouri

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Authorities have rescued several people stranded by flooding in northwest Missouri as the swollen Missouri River continues to cause damage and strain levees in several Midwestern states.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol said water patrol troopers worked into the night Wednesday, pulling four people from homes and three others from a boat that ran out of gas around the small town of Craig.

The flooding began after yet another levee breach, and several homes were inundated with water. A local ethanol plant was also shut down amid the flooding.

The Missouri River has swelled following heavy rains and snowmelt earlier this month. The flooding has claimed three lives, damaged thousands of homes and busted more than a dozen levees in Nebraska,Iowa and Missouri.

In southwest Iowa, barriers protecting about 2,300 people and thousands of acres of farmland simply weren't high enough to withstand the river, said Pat Sheldon, president of the Benton-Washington Levee District.

Sheldon told television station KNCY on Wednesday that the river levee "performed brilliantly for what it was designed to do, but it just sent more water at us than we had height." He said it took $150 million to repair his district's levees after flooding in 2011, but he estimates it could cost $500 million to do so after this year's disaster.

In Missouri, the river is expected to crest Friday in St. Joseph at the third-highest flood level on record. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said four other levees are at risk of being overtopped, including one near Missouri's Bean Lake.

The flooding has also taken a heavy toll on agriculture, inundating tens of thousands of acres, threatening stockpiled grain and killing livestock.

Nebraska's governor said his state has suffered nearly $1.4 billion in estimated losses and damage, including $840 million in crop and cattle losses. Gov. Pete Ricketts also estimated that more than 2,000 homes and 341 businesses have been damaged or destroyed in the floods in Nebraska alone.

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