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3 dead, 1 missing as Midwest forecasts worsen outlook

Workers handed off sandbags in Fox Lake, Ill. on Monday. The Fox River is expected to crest after heavy rains last week.

Jim Young/Reuters

Workers handed off sandbags in Fox Lake, Ill. on Monday. The Fox River is expected to crest after heavy rains last week.

GRAFTON, Ill. — Even though the Mississippi River started a slow decline at some of its trouble spots Monday, the spring floods in the Midwest are far from over, officials said.

Levee breaks flooded parts of Indiana, and flood waters threatened the campus of Michigan State University. One levee breach near Prairieton, Ind., left about two dozen homes reachable only by boat.

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The flooding is already blamed for three deaths, and could be linked to more. A woman who was last seen stranded along a flooded bridge is missing in Illinois.

Forecasters are expecting an inch of rain through Tuesday over much of the Midwest. They said the rain could bump up the Mississippi River by as much as a foot, from Clarksville, Mo., to points south.

The river isn’t expected to crest until late this week at spots south of St. Louis. Significant flooding is possible in places like Cape Girardeau, Mo., and Cairo, Ill.

To the north, the snow hasn’t stopped yet in Minnesota and the Dakotas.

Once the snow melts, a lot of it ends up in the rivers.

Sandbagging is beginning this week in Fargo, N.D., to prepare for what could be record amounts of high water.

In places like Grafton and Clarksville, just across the river from each other, the clear views of the Mississippi, unobstructed by a permanent levee, have always drawn tourists. But that has left both communities north of St. Louis vulnerable.

By Monday, the rain-swollen river strained a hastily erected makeshift floodwall in Clarksville, creating two trouble spots that volunteers were scrambling to patch — as well as build a second sandbag wall to catch any water seeping through.

Mark Fuchs, a National Weather Service hydrologist, said the latest rainfall could be especially troubling for communities along the Illinois River, which he said is headed for record crests.

Authorities in LaSalle, Ill., spent Monday searching for a woman whose van was spotted days earlier near a bridge over the flooded Illinois, and a 12-year-old boy was in critical condition after being pulled from the Big River near Leadwood, Mo., about 65 miles south of St. Louis. He was swept away as he tried to walk across a bridge.

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