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Towns Along The Mississippi River Evacuate As Floodwaters Swell

Two cars are submerged in floodwaters in a park in Kimmswick, Mo. Gov. Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency because of widespread flooding around the state, which has closed many roads. Jeff Roberson/AP hide caption

toggle caption Jeff Roberson/AP

Two cars are submerged in floodwaters in a park in Kimmswick, Mo. Gov. Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency because of widespread flooding around the state, which has closed many roads.

Jeff Roberson/AP

The rare winter floodwaters that have already claimed the lives of 18 people in Missouri are continuing to swell, prompting the evacuation of several towns along the Mississippi River. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has activated the National Guard to help fight the floods.

Joseph Leahy of St. Louis Public Radio, citing the governor's office, reports that 12 of the flood-related deaths were caused by vehicles being swept from inundated roadways.

Leahy adds that hundreds of roads have been closed across the state because of flooding and that all residents in West Alton, a town on the banks of the Mississippi about 15 miles north of St. Louis, are "urged to leave as an overtopping levee threatens to block roads out of town."

He says:

"In St. Louis, Mayor Francis Slay has asked for volunteers to fill about 20,000 sandbags for a low-lying area near Interstate 55.

"The December deluge has also prompted the U.S. Coast Guard to close a 5-mile stretch of the Mississippi to river traffic at St. Louis. The river is forecast to crest sometime Thursday at its highest level since the historic flood of 1993."

The flooding in Missouri is the latest in a series of massive storms that have hit the country in the past week. As The Two-Way reported, tornadoes hit North Texas, and blizzard warnings were in effect for the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles. Rain and possible flooding is expected in Georgia and other areas of the Southeast. And weather advisories are also in effect for the Midwest and Great Lakes region.

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