POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. — A thousand residents fled their homes in southern Missouri yesterday, as heavy rains falling on saturated ground threatened to break the levee protecting their town. Smaller evacuations also took place from Kentucky to Arkansas, as rivers and lakes continued to rise.
Forecasters said severe storms will drop more heavy rain across the lower Ohio and Mississippi River valleys, compounding the misery from a storm system that pounded the region last week and over the weekend, spawning tornadoes.
Some places have already seen 10 to 15 inches of rain, and the worst flooding may not come until tomorrow. Two storms with rain and possible tornadoes were moving into the region, with parts of Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas expected to feel the brunt, a meteorologist with the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., said. Last night, at least five people in Arkansas were killed — three in flood waters and two in a town where it was likely a tornado struck.
Police in Poplar Bluff, a town of 17,000, moved residents out by noon, after officials said they feared that a catastrophic failure of the town’s levee on the Black River was imminent.