New round of rain might add to flooding

WINFIELD, Mo. — Crews laboring to strengthen fortifications along the swollen Mississippi tackled new dirt slides and seepages on a fragile earthen levee Wednesday as forecasters said more heavy rain could cause a second round of big crests.

As much as 8 inches of rain fell on parts of northern Missouri from Tuesday night into Wednesday, adding water to rivers that feed into the Mississippi, the National Weather Service said.

”They will be dumping in huge, unwelcome amounts into the Mississippi over the next few days,“ hydrologist and meteorologist Mark Fuchs said. He said the river city of Hannibal ”could go up to its big crests again.“

More thunderstorms are forecast over the coming days upstream in Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois, Fuchs said.

Meanwhile, President Bush declared a major disaster area in 22 Missouri counties. The declaration makes federal funding available to state and local governments and certain private non-profit groups to help deal with weather and water damage.

In Grafton, Ill., the crest forecast for Saturday evening was showing ”a foot rise over what they've had so far,“ Fuchs said.