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Rivers Crest, But Plains Residents Wary

Rain had stopped falling Wednesday and some bloated rivers had crested, but many evacuees were still unable to return to flooded homes in a three-state region and experts warned conditions may yet worsen.

Flood warnings were remained Wednesday for the rain-swollen Neosho River, which forced hundreds of residents to evacuate and blocked key roads in northeast Oklahoma.

The river crested at 29.2 feet at about 1 a.m. Wednesday but wasn't expected to fall below its flood stage of 15 feet at Miami until Sunday, said Chuck Hodges, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Tulsa.

"The upper system that has been almost stationary over Oklahoma and given us all the rain has drifted well south into Texas now," Hodges said. "So for the next several days, there will only be a 20 to 30 percent chance of rain just about every day."

Monday was the 20th straight day that rain had fallen in Oklahoma City, but Tuesday was dry.

The Caney River was still rising just north of Tulsa, threatening homes northeast of Collinsville on Wednesday.

More than two weeks of soaking weather has caused widespread flooding in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

While the rain had moved out of Oklahoma, rain fell along much of the Texas Gulf Coast during the morning and the weather service said more was likely from South Texas north to the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

"We're going to see one of our heavier rain days of this event," meteorologist Monte Oaks said Wednesday morning in the weather service's Austin-San Antonio office.

In addition to the flooding, the Verdigris River had been carrying an oil slick of 42,000 gallons of crude oil that spilled from a flooded Kansas refinery toward Oklahoma's Lake Oologah reservoir, which supplies water to several cities.

However, environmental officials who flew over the area where the Verdigris River enters Oologah Lake said there were no indications Tuesday the oil had entered the lake, DEQ spokeswoman Skylar McElhaney said Wednesday.

Upstream in Kansas, the Verdigris was beginning to recede at Coffeyville, but it was kept high by water being released from the Elk City and Fall River Toronto Lake reservoirs, said Jim Miller, Montgomery County emergency manager.

At least 1,000 people were out of their homes throughout southeast Kansas, said Sharon Watson, spokeswoman for the Kansas adjutant general.

The evacuees included Frankie Brewer, whose family is waiting for water to recede from their home in Osawatomie, Kan.

"They say, 'God willing and the creek don't rise,"' Brewer said Tuesday. "Well, the creek went right through my trailer."

In hard-hit Texas, torrential downpours caused more flooding early Tuesday in northern and eastern sections of the state, and some people had to be rescued from vehicles.

The North Texas Municipal Water District ended more than two years of mandatory water restrictions, saying all lakes in the area were filled to capacity.

The weather has been blamed for 11 deaths in Texas in the past two weeks and two people are missing.