Missouri Small Towns Take Brunt of Floods

As levees break upstream, waters in St. Louis expected to crest lower.

ByABC News via logo
June 20, 2008, 9:54 AM

June 20, 2008 — -- Hundreds of Missouri residents joined the dismal fraternity of the flood-ravaged as water breached three levees along the Mississippi yesterday just north of St. Louis in Lincoln County.

The mighty Mississippi overflowed 90 percent of the levees in eastern Lincoln County, rushing into tiny Foley, Mo., and toward other towns throughout the county, according to the Associated Press.

Residents further south of the levee breaches, including those in St. Louis, are expected to benefit from their neighbors' misfortune as National Weather Service predictions for the flood's crest there have lowered significantly.

Jim Kramper, meteorologist with the National Weather Service, warns, however, that the danger is still very real.

"There will still be a lot of places with major flooding," Kramper told the AP. "Even at the levels we're expecting now, a lot of places are threatened."

To make matters worse, scattered thunderstorms are expected in Missouri and Iowa this weekend.

Government officials at the Federal Emergency Management Agency said they are confident that there are "sufficient resources" to handle further flooding.

"The FEMA of today is not the FEMA of 2005. We took the lessons of Katrina and applied them," said Glenn Cannon, assistant administrator in the Disaster Operations Directorate of FEMA. "We have risen to the level that the public expects from us."

Though the flooding crisis is more than a week old, officials claim FEMA is now an "active" agency rather than "reactive," citing the 3.6 million liters of drinking water, nearly 200,000 Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) and nearly 13 million sandbags FEMA and its partners have deployed in flooded or endangered areas. And more help is on the way.

According to David Garratt, FEMA deputy assistant administrator, more than 33,000 applications for individual assistance have been filed with FEMA, each of which is received and answered in an average of "10 seconds or less."

The agency has to balance reconstructive operations in areas that have already been flooded with emergency response operations in endangered areas downstream, Garratt said.

"We have met every requirement. There have been no shortfalls," Garratt said. "We think we're going to be able to meet whatever requirements that are going to emerge."

Additionally, on Wednesday, Congress agreed to allocate $2 billion in disaster relief for those hit hardest by the flooding.

Garratt also emphasized the value of individual contributions in greatly assisting FEMA in emergency response, especially in meeting the demand for temporary housing.