The Heat Is Online

U.S. Drenched from Texas to New England

Deadly storms rake eastern states,
May 13, 2002

Drenching thunderstorms stretched from Texas to New England for a second day Monday, causing deadly flooding and leaving thousands of customers without electricity.

At least two people had died in flooding, one was killed by a falling tree and a boy was in critical condition Monday after being hit by lightning.

Heavy rain fell on already saturated ground in Missouri, where flooding along the St. Francis River meant several people had to be evacuated by boat from their homes in Ironton. Roads into Ironton were flooded, the Iron County sheriff's office said.

One man died near Ironton on Sunday when high water swept him from a tree that he had climbed to escape the flood, said Iron County Sheriff Allen Mathes.

At St. Louis, the Mississippi River was forecast to reach 7.5 feet above flood stage later in the week, and water already was creeping up the riverfront steps that lead to the Gateway Arch.

"If you've got interests along the river, you better pay attention," said Dale Bechtold, a National Weather Service forecaster. "We're going to have problems throughout the week."

The high water wasn't expected to cause any serious problems at St. Louis, but upstream in Hannibal, a crest of 6.8 feet above flood stage was forecast for Tuesday. Hannibal's downtown area is protected by a levee but some other parts of town already were flooded Monday.

Fredericktown, Mo., about 70 miles southwest of St. Louis, got 5.6 inches of rain Sunday and nearby Farmington got about 4.

Up to 3 inches of rain was possible Monday in southern Illinois, on top of more than 3 inches that fell Sunday, the weather service said.

Roads and fields were flooded in Fayette County, 50 miles south of Decatur, Ill., and officials in Dawson City called for volunteers to help sandbag the town's water treatment plant.

Thousands of customers lost power in Missouri's St. Francois and Ste. Genevieve counties when wind-blown trees took out power lines, utilities said.

About 35,000 customers lost power Sunday in Maryland, where thunderstorms produced wind gusts up to 45 mph, said Nancy Caplan, a spokeswoman for Baltimore Gas and Electric. Service had been restored to most of them Monday.

An estimated 45,000 customers lost power in Pennsylvania on Sunday as thunderstorms generated wind up to 60 mph. And a falling tree killed one man about 30 miles east of Pittsburgh, said Westmoreland County Coroner Ken Bacha.

"I looked out the window and saw my lawn furniture take off," said Larry Foley in southeastern Pennsylvania's Chester County.

A 12-year-old boy struck by lightning at Urbana, Ohio, remained in critical condition Monday. James Lewis was playing with three other boys on a hill near railroad tracks when the lightning hit.

Elsewhere in Ohio, one man died when his raft went over a small dam on the swollen Chagrin River near Willoughby, and his companion was still missing Monday.

"I saw them go over and get thrown out of the raft," witness Arney Price said.

"There were a lot of logs, some bigger than I am, just beating on them."

Rain fell at more than an inch an hour in parts of Indiana early Monday and flood warnings were posted for streams including the White River, which was already above flood stage on the north side of Indianapolis. A trailer park had to be evacuated near Vincennes because of flooding, water up to 4 feet deep flowed over a highway near Freeman, and some roads were washed out.

In Ellettsville, Ind., Jack's Defeat Creek flooded the police and fire department offices.

"I'm looking at muddy water with leaves, sticks and debris in the back offices," Detective Marshal Tony Bowlen said. "We have 10 to 12 inches of water standing in the police department. This matches about the worst flooding we've had."

Copyright 2002 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Major Rivers Still Rising in Mo.

The Associated Press, May 14, 2002

ST. LOUIS -- The Mississippi and Meramec rivers continued rising Tuesday after flooding was blamed for at least three deaths in eastern Missouri.

Smaller streams were receding after weekend rainfall that totaled more than 5 inches in some areas, but the National Weather Service warned that more heavy rain could be on the way Thursday and Friday.

Elsewhere, small rivers and creeks also were rising in parts of Indiana and New York.

The Mississippi was expected to crest at St. Louis at 9 feet above flood stage on Thursday. That would be nowhere near the river's crest of nearly 20 feet above flood stage in 1993, when there was extensive flooding up and down the river but no major flooding in the city.

Water already covered the riverfront boulevard in front of the Gateway Arch on Tuesday, forcing the nearby President Casino to close.

The Missouri crested Monday about 6 feet over flood stage at St. Charles and about 7 feet over flood stage at Washington.

The Meramec was expected to crest at 14.5 feet above flood stage Thursday at Arnold in Jefferson County, where sandbagging already was under way.

Cleanup crews were at work Tuesday in Missouri's Lead Belt, a region of southwest of St. Louis known for its lead mines. Ironton, Fredericktown and Desloge were hit especially hard by weekend flooding.

All three deaths during the weekend occurred in the Iron Belt region. They brought Missouri's total number flood deaths this month to eight.

"This was worse than in '93," Bill Mayberry said while cleaning up the parking lot of the Stouts Creek Baptist Church, just down a water-wrecked road from where one of the drowning victims was found.

In Indiana, four counties were in a state of flood emergency, and flood warnings were issued for the entire Wabash Rive from Lafayette, Ind., to Mount Carmel, Ill., through Saturday, the National Weather Service said.

A flood warning also was posted for Indiana's White River, where water could reach its highest level since December 1990, the weather service said.

On Tuesday, however, most of the flooding involved low-lying farm land and scattered road closings.

Flood watches were posted for some small streams in western New York. In the northern part of the state, in the Adirondacks, about 2 feet of water from swollen creeks covered the main road connecting Lake Placid to Interstate 87, and high water elsewhere in the region had damaged homes and businesses.

Copyright © 2002, The Associated Press