Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Govenor Nixon activates Missouri National Guard as death toll rises to 13

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Governor Jay Nixon has activated the Missouri National Guard in response to the widespread flooding across the state.

The state’s death toll from days of pounding rainfall has risen to 13, and Nixon said he expects that number to grow.

The Governor said Monday that the majority of the victims drowned after driving into floodwaters.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol says six of the deaths happened in south-central Missouri’s Pulaski County. That’s where four international soldiers from Fort Leonard Wood drowned, as did two other people when their vehicle was swept away 10 miles from the soldiers.

Nixon told Missourians and other travelers to avoid driving into water, noting that “you’re taking great risks” by doing so.

State officials say there have been more than 200 road closures statewide because of the storms, as well as more than 30 water rescues.

Several businesses are flooded in the town of Union after a small river raged out of control.

The Bourbeuse River reached an all-time high Tuesday, nearly 20 feet above flood stage. Stephanie Norton of the Franklin County Emergency Management Agency says no one has been killed or injured. However, water is near the roofs of a McDonald’s, QuikTrip and several other businesses that sit near the normally docile river.

The Bourbeuse is among several smaller rivers in eastern Missouri that are seeing record or close-to-record flooding. The Meramec River in the St. Louis area is nearly 30 feet above flood stage in some spots, forcing scattered evacuations and the closure of several roads.

The U.S. Coast Guard has already closed a portion of the Mississippi River near St. Louis due to flooding.