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News > World

'Historic' Flooding Kills over 18 People in 2 US States

  • The unusually heavy rains have been blamed on El Nino - a weather system that happens every two to seven years.

    The unusually heavy rains have been blamed on El Nino - a weather system that happens every two to seven years. | Photo: Reuters

Published 30 December 2015

The flooding in Missouri and Illinois could prove as catastrophic as the devastating 1993 flooding as water continues to rise from the Mississippi river.

More than 13 people were killed Missouri and five more in Illinois as heavy storms across seven different U.S. states unleashed a record flooding that has affected thousands of people, according to reports Wednesday.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said Tuesday the floods “go to levels never seen before,” adding that 12 of the victims were killed when their vehicles were swept away.

“Water levels in some locations are predicted to exceed the historic crest in the great flood of 1993, which caused widespread devastation,” Nixon told reporters on Tuesday.

The governor has also called in the National Guard to help with maintaining security and evacuations.

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The so-called Great Flood of 1993 in Missouri lasted for at least 100 days and caused the death of over 32 people and more than US$15 billion in damages.

Experts say that while the storm has passed, the danger persists as water levels continue to rise from the Mississippi river and its tributaries.

According to U.S. army engineers, rising water threatened to spill over 19 federal levees, which could see hundreds of homes destroyed.

Sarah Quinn, an 18-year old resident in the Missouri town of Arnold, said she and her great-grandparents had moved to a hotel room after police turned off the power at her subdivision.

“I’ve never had this happen before. We’ve had simple flooding in the back of our subdivision and we’ve had to sandbag before, but it wasn’t this severe,” Quinn told Reuters from her job in a local restaurant.

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The Mississippi River is expected to reach nearly 15 feet above flood stage on Thursday in St Louis, which would be the highest since 1993. The river is located along the border between Missouri and Illinois.

Several major highways were shut down as a result of the flooding.

Also, several days of extremely heavy rain caused the destruction of sewage systems, allowing waste to flow unfiltered into rivers and waterways.

More than 40 people have been killed in several states in the U.S. Midwest since the beginning of the heavy storms last week.

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Meanwhile, in southern Illinois, the U.S. Department of Corrections transferred an unspecified number of inmates from a maximum security state prison, which houses 3,700 inmates, to other locations because of flooding risks.

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