The Wall Street Journal: Floodwaters along Mississippi River, tributaries begin to crest near St. Louis

Floodwaters along the Mississippi River and its tributaries that have killed at least 21 people and driven others from their homes began to crest in the St. Louis area Thursday, and officials watched anxiously to see if levees protecting communities would hold back swollen rivers.

The flooding, which has swamped towns and prompted water rescues and shut numerous businesses, also caused officials to close more roadways Thursday. Interstate 55 near the town of Arnold along the Meramec River was shut. Other routes between St. Louis and adjacent counties were already closed, including I-44 over the Meramec, leading to traffic snarls.

River records were set at towns along the Meramec, but on Thursday water levels were already beginning to inch down at towns west of St. Louis like Pacific, Eureka and Valley Park, where officials said they believed levees and other barriers would prevent further flood damage.

“The good news is that the Meramec is really close to being at its peak and is starting to go down,” said Jim Kramper, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in St. Louis.

In St. Louis, where floodwaters have lapped at the grounds of the city’s Gateway Arch, the Mississippi River was expected to crest on Friday. The latest forecast put the crest at 42.2 feet, which would be the third-highest recorded level, behind floods in 1993 and 1973.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com

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