The Latest: Search for country singer suspended for night

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Posted: Dec 29, 2015 9:39 PM
The Latest: Search for country singer suspended for night

The latest developments on flooding in the Midwest (all times local):

8:30 p.m.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says the search for a country singer from Arkansas who went missing along with a friend while duck hunting in severe weather has been called off for the night.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol Capt. Paul Timmons tells the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette efforts to find 29-year-old Craig Strickland were suspended early Tuesday evening. Rescuers were searching in northern Oklahoma's Kay County.

On Monday, troopers recovered the body of Strickland's hunting companion, Chase Morland, from Kaw Lake.

Timmons says the search is set to resume Wednesday, depending on weather conditions. He said earlier in the day that the remote location and recent heavy rains have complicated the search effort.

Strickland is the lead singer of the Arkansas-based country-rock band Backroad Anthem.

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6:30 p.m.

A sheriff says the body of a fifth international soldier from Fort Leonard Wood who died in weekend flooding has been found.

Pulaski County Sheriff Ron Long said the soldier's body was recovered Tuesday. He was with four other soldiers who drowned in Pulaski County Saturday.

The bodies of the other four soldiers were recovered earlier.

Long says a Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper spotted the soldier's body Tuesday about 6 miles from where the soldiers' vehicle was swept away.

The soldiers were on a temporary assignment at Fort Leonard Wood. Their names and native countries have not been released.

The five soldiers were among 13 people who have drowned in flooding in Missouri since the weekend. Twelve were in vehicles that drove into flooded roads.

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6:00 p.m.

The Illinois Department of Transportation has reopened a 9-mile stretch of Interstate 70 that was closed by flooding.

The state agency said Tuesday that a portion of I-70 east of St. Louis that had been closed in both directions since Monday reopened Tuesday afternoon.

Hundreds of other main roads and smaller thoroughfares remain closed throughout southern Illinois and Missouri, including Interstate 44 west of Rolla, Missouri.

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4:45 p.m.

Officials have begun transferring some inmates from a southern Illinois prison to other locations because of flooding.

Illinois Department of Corrections spokeswoman Nicole Wilson says the maximum security Menard Correctional Center near Chester has had "minor flooding" in some cells. The prison remains on lockdown and visits have been suspended. The road leading to the prison remains closed from flooding.

The facility houses nearly 3,700 inmates. State officials did not indicate how many inmates were forced to relocate.

Prison officials say they hope to avoid having to shut down the prison's water service but have ample bottled water and portable toilets on hand just in case.

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4:30 p.m.

The rising Mississippi River and its tributaries are threatening to overtop 19 federal levees in the St. Louis area.

Army Corps of Engineers officials said Tuesday that the threatened areas include Perry and Ste. Genevieve counties in Missouri, and Randolph County in Illinois.

The levee protecting the historic downtown of Ste. Genevieve is not believed to be threatened.

Federal officials provided the update at a briefing with U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, an Illinois Republican, at the Corps' emergency operations center in downtown St. Louis.

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3:45 p.m.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it is releasing a record amount of water from the Table Rock Lake dam in response to recent flooding.

The Corps says it was releasing 72,000 cubic feet of water per second on Tuesday. The previous record was 69,000 cubic feet per second during floods in 2011.

The Springfield News-Leader reports (http://sgfnow.co/1TocfR0 ) that means nearly 539,000 gallons are going out of the dam into Lake Taneycomo every second.

Corps spokesman Miles Brown says the lake is still rising, causing more water to rush through 10 spillway gates and the hydropower turbines. He says the Corps currently doesn't plan to open more floodgates.

The flooding has not affected the Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery directly below Table Rock dam.

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3:45 p.m.

The body of a Kansas man who drowned during flooding in southwest Missouri has been recovered.

Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. John Lueckenhoff says the body of 30-year-old Christopher William Forman, of Erie, Kansas, was recovered Tuesday from the Spring River.

Forman's body was found one-third of a mile downstream from where his truck left a county road early Monday north of Carl Junction in Jasper County. Lueckenhoff says Forman drove into high waters and troopers saw him swept away as they were rescuing another driver.

Forman is one of 13 flood-related deaths reported since the weekend. Gov. Jay Nixon's office has said 12 of the victims were in vehicles that drove into flooded roadways.

Lueckenhoff says searches continue for two other suspected drowning victims in Pulaski and Polk counties.

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2:10 p.m.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has called in the National Guard to assist with flood-fighting efforts.

Nixon says guard members will be used to assist first responders in providing security in evacuated areas, and to help direct traffic away from road closures. Roads are closed in nearly 500 locations across the state.

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1:30 p.m.

Several businesses are flooded in the eastern Missouri town of Union after a small river raged out of control.

The Bourbeuse (BURR-bus) River reached an all-time high Tuesday, nearly 20 feet above flood stage. Stephanie Norton of the Franklin County Emergency Management Agency says no one has been killed or injured. However, water is near the roofs of a McDonald's, QuikTrip and several other businesses that sit near the normally docile river.

The Bourbeuse is among several smaller rivers in eastern Missouri that are seeing record or close-to-record flooding. The Meramec River in the St. Louis area is nearly 30 feet above flood stage in some spots, forcing scattered evacuations and the closure of several roads.

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12 p.m.

The U.S. Coast Guard has closed a portion of the Mississippi River near St. Louis due to flooding.

The river was shut down Tuesday to all vessel traffic from mile marker 179 to mile marker 184.

Capt. Martin Malloy cited high water levels and fast currents as the river continues to approach near-record levels in St. Louis.

The Mississippi River is a vital transportation hub for barges that carry agricultural products and other goods.

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11:45 a.m.

Thirteen flood-related deaths have now been confirmed in Missouri.

Gov. Jay Nixon announced the new total during a visit Tuesday to Perry County, where a record crest along the Mississippi River is predicted.

Nixon did not give details about the latest confirmed fatalities, but said nearly all of those who died in Missouri were in vehicles that drove onto flooded roadways.

He urged motorists to stay away from roads with even low levels of water because fast-moving current can push cars and trucks off the roadway.

Previously, 10 deaths from flooding had been reported.

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11:20 a.m.

Water has come over the levee protecting the St. Louis-area town of West Alton, Missouri.

The mayor on Tuesday ordered anyone who has not yet evacuated to get out.

About 520 people live in West Alton, a Mississippi River town about 20 miles north of St. Louis. Mayor William Richter urged evacuations over the weekend after it became clear the river would rise so high that the levee couldn't hold back the water.

West Alton is near the convergence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers.

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10:45 a.m.

Rising water from the Mississippi River has Illinois corrections officials preparing for possible flooding at a prison in the southern part of the state with nearly 3,700 inmates.

Illinois Department of Corrections spokeswoman Nicole Wilson says that employees and emergency work crews at the Menard Correctional Center near Chester are filling sandbags and "working around the clock" as the nearby floodwaters continue to rise.

The maximum security prison is on lockdown, and visits have been suspended.

Officials also anticipate having to bring in hundreds of portable toilets in case the prison's water service is shut down.

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10:15 a.m.

A search has resumed in northern Oklahoma for a country singer from Arkansas who went missing along with a friend while duck hunting in severe weather.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol Capt. Paul Timmons said Tuesday that authorities had returned to Kay County in northern Oklahoma where 29-year-old Craig Strickland of Springdale, Arkansas, went missing on Sunday.

On Monday, troopers recovered the body of Strickland's hunting companion, Chase Morland, from a Kaw Lake.

Timmons says the remote location coupled with recent heavy rains have complicated the search effort.

Strickland is the lead singer of the Arkansas-based country-rock band Backroad Anthem.

The weekend storms are blamed for at least three deaths in Oklahoma and more than 100 injuries, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

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9:40 a.m.

Crews have resumed searching for an international soldier missing from central Missouri's Fort Leonard Wood.

He is one of several people missing after heavy rains caused extensive flooding. Recovery efforts also are underway in Polk and Jasper counties.

The soldier was last seen with four other international soldiers who drowned Saturday night when their vehicle was swept off a Pulaski County road. Sheriff Ron Long said Tuesday that the search is focused on that area.

Fort Leonard Wood says the soldiers were part of a program that brings troops from other countries to the installation to study. Their names and where they are from hasn't been released.

Two other people also drowned in Pulaski County after a second vehicle was swept away, also on Saturday.

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9:30 a.m.

More than 100 volunteers have turned out in blustery cold weather to fill sandbags in St. Louis, where a flooded waterway threatened hundreds of homes.

City workers directed the volunteers Tuesday morning along the River Des Peres, a man-made storm sewer channel that flows into the Mississippi River a few miles south of the Anheuser-Busch brewery.

Alderman Larry Arnowitz was among the volunteers. He says that the predicted crest of nearly 15 feet above flood stage could damage up to 500 homes, though he believes that with no new rain predicted and volunteers' help, most should remain dry.

The sandbags will be piled together in a low-lying area near Interstate 55.

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9:15 a.m.

A wastewater treatment plant has stopped operating near St. Louis, causing sewage to go directly into nearby rivers and streams.

The Metropolitan Sewer District of St. Louis said Tuesday that recent heavy rainfall and the flooding on the Meramec River are the apparent cause of problems at the Fenton wastewater treatment plant. The plant stopped operating Monday night.

Utility officials said the plant is designed for 6.75 million gallons per day of flow, but was treating nearly 24 million gallons per day at the time of the malfunction.

The public is urged to avoid contact with floodwater or sewage in low-lying flooded areas near the plant. It isn't clear when the plant would start operating again.