2 Dead, 2 Missing in Central US Floods

DALLAS (AP) -- Airlines prepared for passenger backlogs Wednesday from hundreds of flights grounded by storms that chased people from flooded homes and deluged roads in the nation's midsection, killing at least two people in Missouri and sweeping a teen down a drainage pipe in Texas.

The National Weather Service posted flood and flash flood warnings from Texas to Ohio, with tornado watches in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Emergency officials in Mesquite, Texas, searched for a 14-year-old boy apparently swept away by floodwaters as he and a friend played in a creek. The friend was able to swim to safety, authorities said.

In northern Arkansas, rescuers searched for a man whose truck was believed to have been swept from a low-water bridge in West Fork. Authorities found only the vehicle.

Heavy rain began falling Monday and just kept coming. Forecasters said parts of Missouri could get 10 inches or more. The storms were expected to finally stop Wednesday.

Cape Girardeau County had received nearly 8 inches of rain by Tuesday afternoon, trapping some residents in their homes. About 50 roads were closed in Christian County after 7 inches of rain fell.

More than 6 inches of rain drenched areas around Dallas, including record rainfall at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, where more than half of the 950 scheduled flights Tuesday were canceled.

Winds of more than 100 mph were briefly reported at the airport, which received a single-day record of 2.35 inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service. The previous high of 1.52 inches was set in 1984, the weather service said.

By early Wednesday morning, the airport had opened all security checkpoint lanes in preparation for an early rush of stranded passengers. Airport officials said the backlog of flights would take most of Wednesday to unwind.

"Everybody did a great job overnight of hanging in there and trying to get some rest," airport spokesman Ken Capps said. "The airlines will be working the lines early to try to get as many people rebooked and out of here as quickly as possible."

Cots and blankets were given to stranded travelers overnight. The airport early Wednesday also received several hundred new passengers who were bussed from airports as far as Louisiana, after they were unable to make flights to DFW the day before.

Federal Aviation Administration officials evacuated the airport's west tower for about 15 minutes Tuesday morning after seeing a funnel cloud. By Tuesday night, the airport was accepting about 50 arrivals and departures an hour - less than half the usual 120 flights that use the airport's seven runways every hour, officials said.

Hundreds of people in Lancaster, south of Dallas, were advised to evacuate their homes as the Ten Mile Creek rose. By evening, the creek waters had receded. One woman was rescued from her yard and four people were rescued from their vehicles, city spokeswoman Ciciely Hickmon said.

In Arkansas, residents in parts of Baxter, Madison, and Sharp counties were evacuated because of rising floodwaters, said Tommy Jackson, a spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management.

The Spring River was rising at a rate of 6 inches per hour Tuesday, and debris flowing in it included full-size trees. Officials said dangerous flows were occurring in Mammoth Spring and Salem, where the river was out of its banks.

To the north, Gov. Matt Blunt activated the Missouri National Guard on Tuesday as high water closed hundreds of roads.

About 300 of the 900 homes in Piedmont, Mo., were evacuated when the McKenzie Creek flowed over its banks and caused flooding 2 to 3 feet deep in the center of the town, about 125 miles south of St. Louis. Dozens of people were rescued in about 15 to 20 boat trips.

Up to 30 homes were evacuated in Winona, and some residents of Cape Girardeau were trapped in their homes, according to the State Emergency Management Agency. In Ellington, as many as 50 homes and half the businesses were evacuated, officials said.

The body of an 81-year-old man was found in the water at Ellington, said Missouri State Water Patrol Lt. Nicholas Humphrey. A 21-year-old state Department of Transportation worker was killed near Springfield when his dump truck was hit by a tractor-trailer as he helped out in a flooded area, officials said.

Scott and Marilyne Peterson and their 25-year-old son, Scott Jr., scurried out of their mobile home in Piedmont after watching the water rise 3 feet in five minutes. The family had just enough time to grab some essentials, a few clothes and the family dog.

"You didn't have time to worry," Scott Peterson Sr. said. "You just grab what you can and go and you're glad the people are OK."

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Associated Press writers Betsy Taylor in Piedmont, Mo., and Chuck Bartels in Little Rock, Ark., contributed to this report.

© 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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