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Rivers inundate homes in Kansas, Missouri

July 02, 2007|From the Associated Press

OSAWATOMIE, KAN. — Flooding worsened Sunday across parts of Kansas and Missouri, forcing more people from their homes. Meteorologists said it could be days before rivers returned to normal after more than a week of drenching rainfall on the Plains.

The Kansas National Guard was sent to help with a mandatory evacuation of Osawatomie, a town of 4,600 about 50 miles southwest of Kansas City, Mo., as the Pottawatomie Creek inundated neighborhoods and workers struggled to reinforce a levee on the Marais des Cygnes River.

Mayor Philip Dudley said 40% of the town was under order to evacuate. Nevertheless, many residents waded through the floodwater or paddled in rowboats for their belongings and to survey the damage, which included homes half underwater and nearly submerged vehicles.

With a canoe, construction worker Joe Clark, 54, and his brother helped people retrieve items from their homes. Clark couldn't get into his own home because the water had already risen to within a few feet of its eaves.

In southeastern Kansas, officials also were preparing for more flooding at Independence and Coffeyville along the Verdigris River, which already had reached record heights. The Army Corps of Engineers planned to open floodgates at Elk City, Fall River and Toronto lakes upstream to protect the dams.

In Missouri, the Little Osage and Marmaton rivers were well above flood stage and still rising in some spots Sunday, said Jim Taggart, a National Weather Service hydrologist in Springfield.

Numerous roads were closed in southwest Missouri, and highways across wide areas of Oklahoma also remained closed because of flood damage.

Storms across the southern Plains have claimed 11 lives in Texas since more than a week ago, and two Texans were missing. The state has gotten some of the worst of the lingering storm system.

In North Texas, hundreds of residents near the overflowing Wichita and Brazos rivers remained evacuated from their homes Sunday, uncertain of when they could return.

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