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More Than Enough Water For Some

The drought in the two-thirds of the country could be all but over.

Now some areas have the opposite problem, particularly in Missouri, where major rivers continue to rise.

Flooding is blamed for at least three deaths in the eastern part of the state.

In New England, this week's heavy rains recharged streams and groundwater, and Brian Mrazik of the U.S. Geological Survey suspects there won't be much of a drought left by the end of the month.

Last month, several wells were a foot below normal and streamflows were running only 70 percent of what they should be. He expects most water levels will be normal for tests at the end of the month.

However, groundwater levels still concern Tom Hawley, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service. He said the recent rainfall has not been able to overcome the deficits over the past few months, but things are improving.

Not so in Missouri, where the Mississippi and Meramec rivers are continuing to rise, while smaller streams were receding after weekend rainfall that totaled more than 5 inches in some areas. The National Weather Service warned that more heavy rain could be on the way Thursday and Friday.

Elsewhere, small rivers and creeks also were rising in parts of Indiana and New York.

The Mississippi was expected to crest at St. Louis at 9 feet above flood stage on Thursday. That would be nowhere near the river's crest of nearly 20 feet above flood stage in 1993, when there was extensive flooding up and down the river but no major flooding in the city.

Water already covered the riverfront boulevard in front of the Gateway Arch on Tuesday, forcing the nearby President Casino to close.

The Missouri crested Monday about 6 feet over flood stage at St. Charles and about 7 feet over flood stage at Washington.

The Meramec was expected to crest at 14.5 feet above flood stage Thursday at Arnold in Jefferson County, where sandbagging already was under way.

Cleanup crews were at work Tuesday in Missouri's Lead Belt, a region of southwest of St. Louis known for its lead mines. Ironton, Fredericktown and Desloge were hit especially hard by weekend flooding.

All three deaths during the weekend occurred in the Iron Belt region. They brought Missouri's total number flood deaths this month to eight.

"This was worse than in '93," Bill Mayberry said while cleaning up the parking lot of the Stouts Creek Baptist Church, just down a water-wrecked road from where one of the drowning victims was found.

In Indiana, four counties were in a state of flood emergency, and flood warnings were issued for the entire Wabash Rive from Lafayette, Ind., to Mount Carmel, Ill., through Saturday, the National Weather Service said.

A flood warning also was posted for Indiana's White River, where water could reach its highest level since December 1990, the weather service said.

On Tuesday, however, most of the flooding involved low-lying farm land and scattered road closings.

Flood watches were posted for some small streams in western New York. In the northern part of the state, in the Adirondacks, about 2½ feet of water from swollen creeks covered the main road connecting Lake Placid to Interstate 87, and high water elsewhere in the region had damaged homes and businesses.

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