The Latest: Floodwaters carry health risks including sewage

AP News
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Posted: Jan 05, 2016 2:56 PM

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The latest on flooding from the Mississippi River and its tributaries (all times local)

1:50 p.m.

Health officials say floodwaters blamed for at least 25 deaths in Illinois and Missouri can carry hidden risks from the sewage and other noxious pollutants they contain.

Tens of millions of gallons of untreated sewage have spewed since last week into the Meramec River near St. Louis, and those plants remained offline Tuesday. That waste eventually has and will flow into the Mississippi River and south to the Gulf of Mexico.

But the floodwaters also could include such things as farm chemicals, as well as livestock waste, industrial chemicals, dead animals, gasoline and railroad toxins.

Even sandbags used as last-ditch defenses against floodwaters, pose a health risk because inundations turn them into mountains of smelly, polluted sacks that often are destined for landfills.

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12 p.m.

A hydrology expert says flood waters have crested or are near cresting on towns along the Illinois River southwest of Peoria.

Steve Buan (BYOO'-an) is a hydrologist with the National Weather Service's North Central River Forecast Center. He said Tuesday that waters near the town of Havana crested overnight Monday into Tuesday and that waters near Valley City and Meredosia are forecast to crest on Tuesday.

Buan says the waters should start receding but he says it's a slow process. Buan says "it's going to take a while to drain this water out." He says there will likely be major flooding levels along the river until the middle of January.

The weather service on Tuesday had flood warnings in effect for a stretch of the Illinois River from Peru southwest to Peoria and from Peoria southwest to its confluence with the Mississippi River.

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11 a.m.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has added 11 counties to the list of disaster declarations in the state for widespread flooding.

Rauner on Tuesday added Cass, Cumberland, Iroquois, Lawrence, Marion, Menard, Moultrie, Pike, Richland, Sangamon and Vermilion counties. That brings the total number of counties largely in central and southern Illinois to 23 with disaster declarations. The declarations make state resources available, such as sandbags, pumps, trucks, inmate crews and other items that can ensure public safety.

Rauner's office says emergency management officials are starting to college damage information as flood waters start receding in some areas. That information will be given to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency to determine the overall impact of flooding. IEMA Director James K. Joseph says it will take a few weeks to gather initial damage assessments from local authorities.

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10:20 a.m.

Flooding is continuing on the Illinois River in the west-central part of the state.

The National Weather Service reported major flooding levels in river towns southwest of Peoria, including Havana, Beardstown, Meredosia, Valley City and Hardin. The service issued flood warnings for the river as well.

In southern Illinois, bridges were reopening and evacuation orders were being lifted as water levels on the Mississippi River subsided. Alexander County Board chairman Chalen Tatum lifted the county's evacuation notice for many communities effective Tuesday morning.

Illinois and Missouri officials say the Chester Bridge, connecting Chester, Illinois, and Perryville, Missouri, reopened Monday evening after being closed for nearly a week due to rising water. Perryville is about 75 miles south of St. Louis.

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8:25 a.m.

Roads are reopening as floodwaters recede across much of Missouri.

KOLR-TV (http://bit.ly/1OJpXzT ) reports that the number of roads closed in Missouri from recent flooding has dwindled to about 50. About 200 roads were closed last week.

Traffic Liasion Engineer Rick Bennett with the Missouri Department of Transportation says the roads that remain closed are primarily in rural areas.

Bennett says roads could continue to be closed for a couple of weeks in still-flooded southeastern Missouri. He says undamaged roads should open up in the next week or two.

Up to 14 inches of rain fell in parts of Missouri and Illinois last week, causing floods that claimed at least 25 lives in both states.

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