The Latest: 77 miles of Mississippi River closes to traffic

AP News
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Posted: May 05, 2017 12:19 PM
The Latest: 77 miles of Mississippi River closes to traffic

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The Latest on flooding in the Midwest (all times local):

11:20 a.m.

Another stretch of the Mississippi River has been closed to all traffic amid flooding.

The U.S. Coast Guard has closed a 77-mile stretch of the river in Illinois from Chester to Cairo. The span was closed Thursday night and is in addition to a 14.5-mile stretch of river closed earlier in the week in St. Louis.

Heavy rain last weekend led to significant flooding in several Midwestern states. Most rivers are now receding, but the Mississippi River is still rising in some spots. Crests are expected over the weekend in communities south of St. Louis.

It's unclear when vessel traffic will be allowed to resume along the Mississippi. The shutdown sidelines barges that carry agricultural goods and other products.

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10:20 a.m.

More sandbags are being piled on top of levees in an evacuated eastern Missouri city, but local officials are confident the area will stay dry as floodwaters recede.

West Alton's 500 residents live near the confluence of the nation's two largest rivers, the Missouri and the Mississippi. Both rivers were at major flood stage Friday and water was seeping over levees at West Alton.

But emergency manager Gary Machens says sandbags are being placed to stop the water, and he's confident the levees will hold.

Heavy rainfall last weekend led to a sudden surge in rivers across several Midwestern states. Nine deaths have been blamed on flooding so far: five in Missouri and four in Arkansas.

Most smaller rivers are falling sharply, but the Mississippi is expected to crest over the weekend in some towns in Missouri and Illinois.