The worst Midwest flooding in 15 years started to ease over the weekend after the swollen Mississippi River crested in St. Louis on Friday, but the toll was still rising as billions of dollars in damage to crops, communities and infrastructure were assessed.
Estimates are that up to 5 million acres of cropland, mostly corn and soybeans may have been lost. In Iowa alone, crop losses have been estimated at $3 billion, with the state’s livestock producers estimated to have suffered another $500 million in losses.
Iowa and Illinois have been the hardest hit, but parts of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana and Missouri have also been swamped.
Bridges and highways have been swamped, factories shut down, water and power utilities damaged, and the earnings of railroads, farmers and myriad other businesses disrupted.
As the Mississippi crests, towns along the river's vast flood plain will tally their losses and wait for the waters to subside, which could take weeks or even months.
The river started cresting Sunday at Canton, MO, not far from the Iowa state line, through the lock and dam near Quincy, IL. Next up, according to federal forecasters, were crests expected Monday from Hannibal to Clarksville.
Residents of Winfield and Grafton, IL, will have to wait a little longer, as forecasters said the river would crest there on Wednesday. A reminder the threat had not passed came Sunday in Lincoln County, MO, where a levee near
Winfield overtopped and flooded about 1,000 acres and fewer than half a dozen homes.
More than two dozen levee breaks up-river earlier in the week took pressure off downstream areas.
Farther down river, the river dropped a bit Sunday below crest level from Alton, IL. through St. Louis and down to Chester, IL. The Mississippi was expected to rise again to crest level by Wednesday, but to levels still well off the record levels set in 1993.
The flooding in the Midwest has brought freight traffic on the upper Mississippi to a standstill, stranding more than 100 barges loaded with grain, cement, scrap metal, fertilizer and other products while shippers wait for water levels to drop.
Because of the high water, the Army Corps of Engineers has closed 13 locks along the upper Mississippi since June 12. As of early Monday, nine locks remained closed, on a roughly 215-mile stretch of the river between Illinois City, IL. to Saverton, MO.
However, the latest forecasts are for the river to reopen to barge traffic early next week.
Archer Daniels Midland said on Friday its Cedar Rapids, IA wet corn mill that was downed last week by the Midwest floods was operating at partial capacity.
Cargill Inc. on Friday reopened one of its two Cedar Rapids, IA, soybean processing plants after a weeklong power outage.