Flooding in the Mississippi River is menacing St. Louis, with conditions expected to worsen into Wednesday. Severe storms are possible from eastern New Mexico to southern Missouri. NBC's Kelly Cass reports.
Emergency officials went door to door Tuesday afternoon urging a few dozen residents of a small farming town near St. Louis to evacuate after a levee battered by floodwaters was breached.
The 100- to 150-foot breach opened up on the Mississippi River side of the Consolidated North County Levee in West Alton, about 20 miles north of St. Louis in St. Charles County, said Colene McEntee, a spokeswoman for the county.
Residents of about 43 homes were urged to leave as water moved 2 miles inside the levee, she said.
The breach is one of several that have been reported in mostly uninhabited lowlands straddling the Missouri River near where it joins the Mississippi after massive storms Friday caused widespread floods.
The Army Corps of Engineers' St. Louis office said the breach follows a similar break earlier in the morning of the levee on Choteau Island near Interstate 270. So far, it said in a statement, most of the federally overseen levees in the district were still "performing as designed."
Tuesday's incident isn't related to a voluntary evacuation order issued Monday night after floodwaters overtook a temporary sandbag barricade in West Alton. Most residents chose to stay put Monday, forcing St. Charles County authorities to return after Tuesday's breach to again urge them to leave, McEntee said.
The National Weather Service said the Mississippi was cresting Tuesday at 34.4 feet at Alton — higher than the damaging floods of April, and a level that would go down in the books as the fourth highest on record.
About 350 homes in St. Charles County sustained major damage from storms on Friday, which dumped 2 to 4 inches of rain into the already flooded rivers and spun off tornadoes that caused widespread damage across Oklahoma and Missouri, the county said in a statement. Forty-five to 50 of those homes have been condemned, officials said.
Oklahomans, meanwhile, faced the possibility of more severe thunderstorms and tornadoes Tuesday as another storm system moved through the Plains and the Mississippi Valley, forecasters said.
Zoya Khan of NBC News contributed to this report.
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This story was originally published on Tue Jun 4, 2013 5:15 PM EDT