Mississippi Flood Surge Rushes South as St. Louis Cleans Up

The swollen Mississippi River was pushing downstream at 10 times the speed of the Niagara Falls on Saturday, threatening more floods in rural southern Missouri and Illinois.

Two more levees along its course succumbed Friday, bringing to at least 11 the number of levee failures. In Arnold, Missouri, an estimated 150 homes were underwater.

The worst of the dangerous, deadly winter flood has been in the St. Louis area, leaving residents of several water-logged communities to assess damage, clean up and figure out how to bounce back — or in some cases, where to live.

The flood, fueled by more than 10 inches of rain over a three-day period that began last weekend, is blamed for at least 25 deaths.

On Friday, searchers found the body of a teenager in central Illinois: Devan R. Everett, 18, who had been missing since Monday when he and another teen disappeared while driving a pickup truck.

The search continued for the other teen, as well as two men in Missouri and a country music singer in Oklahoma. Craig Strickland, the lead singer of the Arkansas-based country rock band Backroad Anthem, disappeared during storms Sunday while duck hunting.

“Our biggest concern is looking out for those who haven’t evacuated,” U.S. Coast Guard officer Nicholas Litchfield told NBC News.

The surge in water from the flooding was expected to hit cities further south, such as Memphis, Tennessee, during next week.

Image: Floodwaters in St. Louis
Traffic moves freely in both directions along Interstate 44 at Highway 141 after floodwaters from the Meramec River receded in St. Louis on Friday, Jan. 1, 2016. On Friday, water from the Mississippi, Meremec and Missouri rivers was largely receding in the St. Louis area. Two major highways, Interstate 44 and Interstate 55, reopened south of St. Louis. David Carson / St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP

Meanwhile, other areas experienced some relief. Receding waters enabled the Missouri Department of Transportation to reopen all of Interstate 55, which had been closed Wednesday to allow crews to place sandbags and pumps because it was in danger of being overtaken by the Meramec River.

A spokesperson told The Associated Press that typically, 76,000 vehicles pass through the area on a daily basis.

Interstate 44, which had also been closed for two days over a 24-mile stretch, was also drying up, and reopened later Friday. A state of emergency for St. Louis County was lifted Friday.

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