Midwest floodwaters recede, but threat remains

ST. LOUIS Across the Midwest, river levels are going down, but the threat of flooding remains.

In northern Indiana, a dozen homes are now condemned; 200 others are damaged. In western Michigan, hundreds of people are being allowed back in their homes.

Illinois River setting new high-water records

But in Illinois, some areas are still underwater. At least three towns along the Illinois River are setting new high-water records. Floodwaters have all but consumed the small town of Kampsville, where many of the community's 300 residents have fled to higher ground.

Kampsville sits along the Illinois River and has suffered major flooding at least four times in the last 20 years.

"We're pros at it -- we've done it several times now," said Debra Becker, manager at the town's only restaurant, the Kampsville Inn. The local institution -- normally filled with patrons -- is now filled with floodwater.

With more than 20 employees now jobless, reopening the inn, for Becker, is not a matter of if, but when.

"When we do flood everyone jumps in and helps," Becker told correspondent Dean Reynolds.

That includes the local ferry, the Miss Illinois -- the only way in and out of Kampsville.

With eight crossings an hour, 24 hours a day, the ferry has become a vital link to dry land for those who have stuck around.

"If one of these levees does break, we can keep operating and, you know, keep people coming in and out," said John Kress.

Concern over rising flood levels is ever-present throughout the Midwest. Though water has begun to recede along portions of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, it has yet to crest in others.

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service says light rain is forecast through the weekend.

In Peoria, Ill., where the river swelled to a 70-year high before cresting on Tuesday, sandbags remain tightly packed. Likewise along the Mississippi, makeshift protection is managing to hold off any more damage.

For an idea of how wet this spring has been, not even four months ago the Mississippi River was almost 40 feet lower at St. Louis than it is today.

Missouri is also keeping a close eye on the Mississippi. The river is expected to crest about 10 feet above flood stage Thursday at Dutchtown, Mo.

The weather service in Paducah, Ky., says the Mississippi will crest Thursday at 38.1 feet in Chester, where flood stage is 27 feet. Cape Girardeau is forecast to see a crest Friday of about 42 feet, 10 feet above flood stage.

The biggest concern is that the flood is expected to linger into May, potentially straining longstanding earthen levees and hastily-built sandbag walls.