Torrential new rains likely to swell US flood

AS CONGRESS bickered over an initial dollars 3bn (pounds 2bn) federal relief package, inhabitants of the stricken American Midwest braced for more floods as storms and torrential rains again swept the Missouri and upper Mississippi basins, threatening soaked and weakened levees along hundreds of miles downstream.

This week's respite in the weather has proved an illusion. After first cresting in St Louis at 46.9ft, the Mississippi delivered a fresh record of 47ft on Tuesday, and is expected to top that when a third crest, fuelled by a new surge of the Missouri, arrives in the middle of next week.

The city itself should be safe, protected by its 11-mile flood wall, 52ft high, although at least one leak was reported yesterday. But the suburbs of South St Louis will once more be at the mercy of the bloated Des Peres river which has already smashed through levees along its banks, turning entire neighbourhoods into fetid, brown lakes.

Across the region, the disaster's toll mounts remorselessly. According to the Red Cross, 33 people have died and almost 33,000 have lost their homes. Damage estimates range anywhere up to dollars 10bn, while 16,000 square miles of some of the world's richest farmland - an area one-third the size of England - are under water.

Computer-enhanced maps show a flooded area as large as one of the Great Lakes straddling the borders of Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota. Some areas received a further 6in or 7in of rain over Thursday night. President Clinton has now declared parts of Kansas a disaster area, making it the eighth state eligible for emergency aid from Washington.

When that relief comes is uncertain. Congress was supposed to approve the dollars 3bn package on Thursday, but squabbling over whether additional spending cuts were needed to find the money delayed a House of Representatives vote until Tuesday at the earliest.

On the ground, it was a mixed story of triumph and failure. Drinking water has returned for the 250,000 residents of Des Moines, Iowa. But the Mississippi broke through levees to flood a 15,000-acre island downstream of St Louis.

While the heartlands are submerged, south-eastern states have been sizzling in 100F heat for weeks now. South Carolina yesterday reported dollars 200m of drought damage. The culprit is the same: a high pressure zone in the east which has trapped the storm system over the Midwest. Forecasters predict no change for at least 10 days.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A luxury beauty house with a nu...

Recruitment Genius: Housekeepers - Immediate Start

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This company are currently recruiting new exp...

Recruitment Genius: Head Concierge

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...

Recruitment Genius: Content, SEO and PPC Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral