Flood warnings remained in effect across parts of Missouri and southeast Kansas as a deadly winter storm began moving out of the area overnight, leaving at least 10 people dead.
Gov. Jay Nixon said Monday that number was expected to rise.
“It has been a very difficult several days,” Nixon said, “and this event is clearly not over.”
St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay declared a flood emergency in response to the rising Mississippi River.
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The river was nearly 7 feet above flood stage and expected to rise another 8 feet before cresting Thursday. That would make it the second-highest reading ever, topped only by the 1993 flood.
The Kansas City area escaped the brunt of the storm but still got its first real taste of winter.
While conditions across the region were expected to improve through the rest of the week, major flooding was likely to continue through early Thursday along the Spring River above Baxter Springs, Kan., before the river was finally expected to fall below flood stage.
Continued flooding was also expected along the Elk and White rivers in Missouri, after effects of a powerful winter storm that some dubbed Goliath, which killed dozens from Texas, to the nation’s mid-section, and snarled traffic from the Great Lakes region to the Northeast.
While the twisters Goliath set off proved the most lethal in north Texas, killing 11 people in the Dallas area, rising waters from heavy rains were the leading cause of storm-related deaths in southern Missouri.
To alleviate some of the flooding, the flood gates were opened on the dams at Lake of the Ozarks and Table Rock Lake.
The Missouri Highway Patrol on Monday said nine people drowned over a weekend that brought as much as a foot of rain to some parts of the state.
Six people drowned in two separate incidents on Saturday. Four of them died after their vehicle was washed off Missouri Route U near Crocker.
Pulaski County Sheriff Ronald Long said the victims were four foreign soldiers who were temporarily stationed at nearby Fort Leonard Wood. Their names and nationalities were not released, pending notification of relatives.
A witness told authorities that the men’s vehicle was swept downstream after entering a flooded road.
Long said a fifth person may have been in the car, but that had not been confirmed.
Two people drowned Saturday when their vehicle was washed off Missouri Route O near Dixon. The patrol gave no other details.
Steven L. Welton, 42, of Springfield, drowned Sunday after his vehicle was washed off Missouri Route CC at Simms Branch Creek in Greene County.
The bodies of two drowning victims were recovered in Douglas and Dallas counties, Highway Patrol Superintendent J. Bret Johnson said Monday. He gave no other details.
Strong winds downed trees and power lines. In the Springfield area, a tow-truck driver, Edward Kammerer, 60, was electrocuted when he came in contact with a downed wire while trying to retrieve vehicle that had gone off the roadway.
The high water also washed away a stretch of train tracks Sunday morning in southwest Missouri, causing at least nine cars to topple sideways. A spokesman for the BNSF Railway said the tracks washed away after crews stopped the train because of flooding along the line. He said teams arrived at the scene Monday to assess the damage.
Williams said the train was headed eastbound from California. The derailed cars were hauling about 30 containers. No hazardous materials were involved.
During the worst of the storm, flooding closed more than 180 Missouri roads, including a section of eastbound Interstate 70 in St. Charles County west of St. Louis.
I-49 was still closed Monday morning near Carthage, where a church sheltered 75 flooding victims.
Emergency crews responded to dozens of rescue calls as water levels rose. Firefighters from the Kansas City Fire Department and the Central Jackson County Fire Protection District traveled to the area to assist.
Kansas City Fire Chief Paul Berardi said the team of 22 firefighters rescued seven people while in Joplin and were returning to Kansas City on Monday night.
The director of the McDonald County emergency management told The Joplin Globe that the town of Noel, Mo., was nearly surrounded by floodwaters on Sunday.
The Elk River was expected to crest at 27.5 feet on Monday, just a foot below its highest point 75 years ago.
“We are going to have a massive amount of road and bridge damage throughout the county,” Gregg Sweeten told the newspaper.
High waters also knocked out a sewer lift station serving thousands of homes in southwest Joplin, where 8.6 inches of rain fell in 72 hours. Workers were trying to restore service Monday, and residents were being asked to limit sending things down the drain by curtailing dishwashing, showering and even flushing the toilet.
A city spokeswoman told The Star that could last until Wednesday, when a temporary fix will be made. She said the lift station will have to be replaced, but she did not have a cost estimate.
The Star’s Mike Hendricks compiled and contributed to this report.