Evacuations urged as Missouri River breaches levees at Rushville and Winthrop

As the Missouri River rose to near record levels, water breached levees Thursday morning in southern Buchanan County, Missouri, according to officials.

Earlier in the day, the Buchanan County sheriff warned that water was spilling over levees north of Rushville and south of Winthrop.

About 1 1/2 hours later, the sheriff announced that a levee was breached behind a concrete plant in Winthrop.

Across the river, the Atchison County Emergency Management urged people to begin self evacuations of the Sugar Lake, Winthrop and Missouri Bottoms areas along the Missouri side of the river.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson declared a state of emergency in response to the flooding. He activated the state’s emergency operations plan, which allows state agencies to coordinate directly with local jurisdictions.

“The rising flood waters are affecting more Missouri communities and farms, closing more roads and threatening levees, water treatment plants and other critical infrastructure,” Parson said in a news release.

“We will continue to work closely with our local partners to assess needs and provide resources to help as Missourians continue this flood fight and as we work to assist one another.”


U.S. 59 from Rushville to Atchison, including the Amelia Earhart Bridge, was closed because of flooding.

Officials warned people to avoid flood waters because they were contaminated and very fast moving. It would be easy for someone to be swept away by the current, they said.

“At this point, a water rescue would be very hard and very dangerous,” the Atchison County Emergency Management posted to Facebook. “Please use your best judgment when viewing the waters.”

Parson, along with U.S. Representative Sam Graves, Missouri National Major General Stephen Danner, Missouri Agriculture director Chris Chinn and State Emergency Agency director Ron Walker, were planning to tour the flooding in northwest Missouri Thursday afternoon.

The overtopping of levees came a day after a levee was breached on the northwest edge of Craig, Mo., leading to the evacuation of the town.

Residents of the town, near the Missouri River in Holt County, said the current flooding could be worse than what happened in 1993.

“All the old timers talk about ‘93. I was just a kid then,” Travis Kent said. “I don’t know what it was like then, but from what I’ve heard, it’s definitely way worse than that.”

The town’s mayor, Rhonda Hunziger, said: “There’s water as far as you can see.”

Missouri Water Patrol Troopers rescued four people from homes overnight in and around Craig, Mo., and three others from a boat that ran out of fuel, the Missouri Highway Patrol announced on Twitter.

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Robert A. Cronkleton gets up very early in the morning to bring readers breaking news about crime, transportation and weather at the crack of dawn. He’s been at The Star since 1987 and now contributes data reporting and video editing.