Strong Midwestern downpours may force residents to wait even longer to return to homes they evacuated due to fears of flooding, emergency management officials said Thursday.
Parts of northeast Missouri and west-central Illinois received up to an inch of rainfall Wednesday night into Thursday, following strong downpours the night before. Weather systems rolling across Iowa were expected to produce more rain Thursday and Friday, the National Weather Service said.
The rain was bringing new river crests and fresh anxiety. As calls for sandbagging slow in one community, they pop up in another.
In Canton, Mo., the Mississippi River had fallen to 24.9 feet Thursday, but officials were monitoring weather reports in Iowa and said they could not yet lift a voluntary evacuation in parts of town.
The levee at Canton remained in good shape despite locally heavy downpours over the past two days. "The rainfall we have gotten here has been more damaging to the levees south of us," Canton emergency management director Jeff McReynolds said.
Iowa was drying out after storms erupted Wednesday afternoon and continued into Thursday morning. In central Iowa, 5 inches of rain were reported in Polk City, near Des Moines, while Ottumwa in the southeast received over 2 inches of rain in about 30 minutes.
Meteorologist Marc Russell of the National Weather Service said rivers in southeast Iowa are still in the major flood category and any more rain, just an inch, could cause flash flooding. The same goes for the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City areas, which suffered major flooding, Russell said.
Mayor John Spring of Quincy, Ill., said after a couple of days of not sandbagging, "We're going full-tilt once again."
He said the community got an emergency phone call Wednesday that rain, as much as 9 inches in some areas, would raise the river again.
He estimated about 125 homes, farms and businesses in and around Quincy in Adams County and across the river in West Quincy, Mo., had been flooded.
In St. Charles County outside of St. Louis, sandbagging resumed and there was talk again of voluntary evacuations in West Alton.
"They were feeling secure three to four days ago, but with the crest levels pushed up a bit, they're discussing voluntary evacuations," said St. Charles County spokesman John Sonderegger.